Playing the harp isn’t the most high-tech pastime—unless, like Stephen Hobley, you use lasers in place of the strings. Though not the first home-built laser harp, Hobley’s creation is unquestionably the coolest. Played by disrupting the laser beams with his hands, it can produce just about any sound. Better yet, it’s also a fully functioning controller for a version of Guitar Hero.
The harp consists of a box with a power supply, a 450-milliwatt green laser, a mirror and a motherboard. After determining the beam’s frequency, Hobley was able to tune a sensor so it would detect only the laser and not any ambient light. Touching a beam deflects light toward the sensor, triggering software on a PC that translates hand movements into sounds. He also wrote a script that maps notes from the harp to keyboard controls in the videogame.
Hobley is now selling the plans for the harp on his Web site (stephenhobley.com). He says he’s recently had to upload a video of himself playing the game: “It was a direct response to all the comments I got to ‘play Freebird!’”
Check out the video below, then turn the page to see how it works.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.