Computer controlled robotic orchestra uses rubber paint balls to play Animusic’s “Pipe Dream.”
The tech world is rife with conductors, but this one has nothing to do with transmitting heat, electricity or light. In this case, the conductor leads a robotic orchestra, synchronizing a host of plastic and metal percussion instruments that ping, pong, bong and blink blue-hued light each time a nearby paint gun strikes them with a tiny rubber ball.
Dubbed the Intel Industrial Control in Concert, this machine-to-machine-controlled collection of digitally connected vibraphones, xylophones, high-hats and other sound-making devices is intended to demonstrate the simplicity of building a state-of-the-art smart system using off-the-shelf technologies based on common x86 chip architecture, according to Intel’s Drew Pool.
The crowd-pleasing project cost approximately $160,000 to build and debuted at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
The orchestra’s conductor is a palm-sized computer motherboard powered by an Intel Atom processor surrounded by dozens of wires and white PVC tubing that snakes from one instrument to the next. The seven embedded Atom computer systems operate a video security camera to sense accuracy of the moving parts, a digital synthesizer for the sound, digital signage and a multi-touch interactive display that allows people to see what makes the whole operation hit the right notes.
“This was done from concept to creation in 90 days,” said Marc Christenson from Sisu Devices, an Austin, Texas-based technology integration company that builds motion, vision and machine control automation.
“This thing has seven Atom processors total, from three different generations, that are working together harmoniously to play the song,” said Christenson, whose company co-built the musical demonstration project with Intel.
“It’s running three different operating systems, including Windows-embedded XP as a real-time operating system,” he said. “It has 250 industrial interconnects, 36 paintball hoppers that shoot rubber, glow-in-the-dark paint balls to play 2,372 notes in the song.”
The high tech syncopated orchestra was inspired by the 2004 song “Pipe Dream” by Animusic, an entertainment company that makes 3-D video renderings of instrumental music, according to Drew Pool, a product marketing engineer for Intel’s Embedded Computing Group.
Intel’s developer conference was just the opening performance for this maestro-less orchestra. Pool said that he plans to take the robotic ensemble on tour to other tech industry events.
Intel Industrial Control in Concert by the numbers
- $160,000 to build
- 2,300 rubber paint balls
- 250 industrial I/O
- 90 days to create
- 36 paint ball hoppers
- 7 Intel Atom processors
- 4 modular pieces
- 3 operating systems
- 3 different generations of Atom
- 1 day to assemble
- 1 U-Haul truck to deliver from Texas to San Francisco