Will somebody please circuit-bend the Beamz?

A promotional video for a forthcoming "laser harp" known as Beamz is drawing a lot of well-deserved laughter, but I wonder what could be done with a little tweaking.

Beamz, a forthcoming $600 "laser harp" that will be sold exclusively by Sharper Image, features one of the (unintentionally) funniest promotional videos ever. Gizmodo recently named itthe worst product video of all time, and it's drawn a lot of ire over at the Create Digital Music blog, but I personally found it worth the view for a three-minute chuckle: the 70's-porn meets Weather Report intro, the faux-Halen "guitar solo," the quiet spa music played by a guy you'd never expect to be a massage therapist. (The inevitable spoof video is also pretty good.)

The video's funny, but wait until somebody takes it apart.... The Sharper Image

The product itself? I can imagine my two-year-old daughter really getting into it--any time we mess around with my 8-bit Yamaha keyboard, she always presses the demo button after a minute or two--and it's certainly no more harmful to the state of the musical universe than those plasma balls I used to stare at while listening to Pink Floyd back in high school. But $600? Wow. You can get a decent guitar for $600. Or if you don't want to learn to play a real instrument, an Xbox 360 with the special edition of Rock Band.

But hang on a second--I bet there's some pretty interesting audio circuitry in the thing. The songs are all preprogrammed, and breaking the laser beam simply triggers the next "note" in the solo sequence that goes atop the main bed of music. Seems like a little clever circuit-bending could create a remarkable instrument--like a theremin, only cheesier. Or weirder. It comes out on April 15. I'm hoping that by April 16, we'll see the first circuit-bending videos featuring the device. $600 is a lot to spend, but perhaps Gizmodo will offer theirs up for the cause.

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About the author

    Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.

     

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