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Gallery 7

OptiMusic

A multi coloured sign with the words 'Optimusic' at the top, along side a carpeted area with a pink structural pole, and different coloured floor lights in a curved line.
A multi coloured sign with the words 'Optimusic' at the top, along side a carpeted area with a pink structural pole, and different coloured floor lights in a curved line. A teenage girl is walking on the lights.

Coloured light beams and electronics work together to play music or funny sound effects.

How it works

Press a button to choose different sound effects, then block beams of coloured light by walking through the beams, or waving your feet into the lights to generate a sound.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • Stand one to ten people around the arc of light beams and see if you can co-ordinate yourselves as a team to compose a song or a sound effect soundtrack.
  • Can you see a circle of light on your hands when you block a beam of light?
  • Where is the light sensor that detects whether light is being blocked or reflected?
  • If light is being reflected off your hand, doesn’t some light still reach the sensors on the ceiling? Why doesn’t light reflected from your hand behave the same way as light reflected from a disc on the floor?

Background

Coloured light beams and electronics work together to play music or funny sound effects when visitors block the beams of light with their hand or foot.

Light beams shine down onto round reflector discs on the floor. These round discs reflect each light beam back up to sensors next to each spotlight in the ceiling. When a light beam’s path is disrupted (by your hand or foot), the sensor doesn’t detect the light beam, then a switch is activated. This switch sends a signal to a computer software program, which then sends a signal to stereo speakers to play certain sounds.

Reflectors are designed to direct all incoming light back at the source and are used in road signs. Your hands, however, scatter the light all over the place due to their bumpiness and irregular shape. The colour of the light may seem brighter or more visible when it is shining on your hands compared to the reflector disc, because more light is reaching your eyes, but not necessarily reaching the sensor on the ceiling.

Finding the science in your world

OptiMusic can also be programmed to trigger lights, images, video, smoke and even pyrotechnics at concerts and festivals.