A Hollywood musician by the name of Jerry Riopelle invented the device (invented as in: “was the first to conceive a Laser Harp financially accessible to the public”). He obtained a distribution deal through Sharper Image selling it at $600. Now that Sharper went kaput the price went down to $400.
The Beamz is sold with W shaped arches that you can fold, a USB cable to hook up to a computer, and some drivers. Six lasers shoot out from the arches, each representing a channel of some pre-determined track. You place an object in front of the laser and you got the sound from the channel playing. The Beamz comes complete with 30 songs in 19 musical genres with more songs available from www.thebeamz.com for $1.99 each.
The Beamz is getting pretty bad hype from from many tech websites because of this video that frankly seems as if it were produced in the early nineties.
I thought long and hard to choose which video to embed and decided upon this one. There are quite a few funny ones on youtube anyways.
Reviews are actually pretty mixed as some people find it to be a great entertainment tool and others a rip-off made to make you look like a douche. I still have yet to figure out if we can import our own mp3 tracks to mix them, which would be rather cool making the Beamz experience more instrumental. If you only use the tracks they give you, it’s nothing more than a toy. Makes up for a great xmas gift if you’re willing to spend the money. As to whether the device should be called an instrument, again if we could import our tracks, sure why not, if not then I’ll leave it as musical gadget for the musically challenged (though I’d still buy one if I was loaded :)
The Beamz will find it’s niche for sure, as it appeals to that large category of people on this earth who are positively certain, for whatever reason, that they are completely incapable of playing a real instrument. If the wagging tail of their dog can produce harmonious music with it, who knows what they could come up with?