The Laser Harp
Thanks to Professor Josh Hug @ UC Berkeley, a Laser MIDI Controller designed and built by Luke Calderin, Dan Lynch, and Joey Talia.
Come see us launch @ CODAME SubZero
During a summer EECS class at UC Berkeley, three students decided to pitch an ambitious idea to their professor---to build a Laser MIDI controller that can play music through a Plasma Speaker instead of the planned class project---and do it in a matter of a few weeks. Thanks to Professor Josh Hug and Ference Kovac, the National Instruments Laboratory in Cory Hall, and the funding provided by the EECS department, the 5X transduction system was designed and built by Luke Calderin, Dan Lynch, and Joey Talia: the laser harp technology required the conversion of laser beams into voltages and then voltages into the serial MIDI protocol via a micro-controller. The plasma speaker converted audio signals into plasma, which required performing surgery on an old CRT monitor, a 10 foot PVC pipe (although Luke still got electrocuted), and a series of MOSFETs with a power supply of 10,000 Volts.
The speaker was a success, playing voltage-driven dubstep, and the laser harp system is currently polyphonic, allowing a user to play multiple notes on any digital music application that works with MIDI, with extremely quick response times. Luke has continued to advance the laser harp technology to go from millisecond response times to nanoseconds and has drastically improved the design. The plan is to provide a mass-producible version that is much leaner than the other laser harps out there that use arduinos and other more expensive technologies to produce less responsive results.