EDIT (Jan. 3rd, 2010): Mr. Geoffrey Rose, inventor of the laser harp, has enlightened us about the harp’s history in the comments below.
When I imagine a harp I’m inclined see men wearing white periwigs and court-dressed baronesses listening to the royal harpist through clinging of crystal glasses. But not after this. Click through to see an interactive, musical laser array and have cyberpunked visions of the future augment your seventeenth century harp idiosyncrasies.
The term “Laser harp” was invented and first used by Bernard Szajner in 1980, according to Wikipedia:
The first model was constructed with a matrix of 5 X 5 laser beams in an octagonal frame. It has subsequently been used in a number of different designs, including a MIDI version invented by Philippe Guerre, and a recent one created by Yan Terrien. They have also been used in public art installations such as those created by Jen Lewin on display at Lincoln Center in 2000 and Burning Man 2005.
And now for the main event. Do you have your periwig on?
From the video’s description:
The harp is driven by an Arduino (Boarduino varation) and connected to the impOSCar VSTi software synthesizer, the TAOS sensor array sits on the floor in it’s own stand.
The summary goes on to state that the harp does respond to hand-distance from sensor, but that it’s still a bit buggy and was thus excluded from the demo. The creator of the harp, Stephen Hobley, has DIY instructions on his site, in case you want to make a laser harp of your own.