Fun with lasers


At the Ambidexterous Magazine launch party last night, Chris Tacklind (of D2M, I think) was showing off his laser-diode glove. These things are lots of fun — I remember my group-mate Michael P. Johnson built one when I was at the Media Lab, and got good enough he could make little figure-8s with two fingers while the other dots circled around them.

Something I hadn’t seen before and liked even better was a sound-display toy Chris was playing with, but I forgot to take a picture that one (eit!). It was just a small cardboard tube with a balloon stretched across one end, and a laser diode shining onto a small mirror stuck to the end of the balloon. You’d speak or sing into the tube and the sound vibrations would show up as little laser shows on the wall in front of you. Use it as a drum and you’d get even cooler effects. (Chris goes around teaching kids to make these things — the one he had was made by a 10-year old.)

Now I want to install something like that into the bottom of the little dumbek drum I have. Stretch a membrane across the bottom of the drum and attach a laser pointer to the inside of the drum shining onto a mirror on the membrane such that it reflects up onto the underside of the white translucent drumhead. Aligned correctly, I bet I could get some fun lasershow-style patterns on the drum head on every beat. (Might need to modify the design if the membrane changes the sound too much — we’ll see.)