Digital Information Development (DID) has developed a highly portable virtual piano that is played with a keyboard consisting of projected laser beams.
The box-shaped device measures about 10 x 3 x 3 cm (4 x 1 x 1 in.) and weighs about 100 grams (3.5 oz.). Using a red semiconductor laser module and holographic optical element, the device projects a 25-key 2-octave keyboard onto the surface in front of it (black surfaces don't work because they absorb the light). A CMOS camera module and infrared (invisible) red semiconductor laser module detect which keys are touched, and the corresponding notes are emitted from speakers built into the device. Chords can also be played, and DID claims it is technically possible to reproduce weighted notes (but presumably not with this version).
The keyboard has 3 other voices in addition to piano -- organ, pipe organ and harpsichord. It is scheduled for release in Japan in November 2006 and is expected to cost around 15,000 yen (US$130).
DID says that a virtual 88-key grand piano can be created by increasing the size of the device.
[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]