Virtual Piano Keyboard

A portable virtual piano has been created by Digital Information Development (DID). This light (actually, that's a pun) piano makes use of a keyboard consisting of projected laser beams.

(Virtual piano laser keyboard)

The device consists of a console measuring just 10 x 3 x 3 cm (4 x 1 x 1 in.); it weighs about 100 grams (3.5 oz.). Using a red semiconductor laser module and holographic optical element, the device projects a 25-key 2-octave keyboard onto the surface in front of it. If you think you've seen this before with a computer keyboard - you have; this technology has been around for several years for computers.

The device uses a CMOS camera module and infrared semiconductor laser module to detect which keys are touched. Notes are emitted from speakers built into the device. Chords can also be played, and DID claims it is technically possible to reproduce weighted notes (but presumably not with this version).

Don't use this device on your black tablecloth - black surfaces donít work because they absorb the light.

A whole-body version of this sort of music-making device was imagined by John Brunner in his epochal 1975 novel Shockwave Rider. A coley-group created music by dancing in a field of weak microwaves.

Take a look at some other real-life implementations of science-fictional music ideas:

Update 10-Jan-2011: Find a better example of this in Frederik Pohl's 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot; see the entry for the virtual keyboard. End update.

Read a bit more here.

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