Scientists at the University of Tokyo have found a curious way to translate drawings and three-dimensional shapes into music. The prototype laser-based musical instrument known as scoreLight uses 3D tracking technology to generate real-time sounds based on the shapes and colors it encounters along the way, transforming doodling into a truly synthesized experience.

As a laser tracker travels along the contours, scoreLight produces and modulates sound according to the curvature, angle, texture, color and contrast of the surface it is exploring. For instance, a sudden change of direction generates a beat-like sound, which translates in a rhythm when the laser is forced into a loop. Size and shape of the lines determine tempo as well as the structure of the beat. As more than one laser pointer is activated, generating more and more complex sounds is as simple as doodling.

The concept of drawing your own music is certainly interesting, but it is really when exploring the third dimension that even more interactive and entertaining ways of using this instrument become possible:

Another interesting application could be to use the lasers to scan the shape of buildings or trafficked roads tens or hundreds of meters away and "read" the city landscape.

It's not clear at this point whether scoreLight could be developed into a fully-fledged musical instrument — especially as it seems to lack in terms of expressivity — but even as it is now, it's certainly a very unique way to compose music and experience the reality around us.

scoreLight (Alvaro Cassinelli, Daito Manabe and Yusaku Kuribara) via Pink Tentacle.