The Robotic Musicians: Pipe Dream and Intel’s Creation

This video clip of a fabulous Rube Goldberg-like contraption that produces catchy, mellow music by continuously shooting balls at various percussion instruments is, as usual, a clip removed from the context of its original source and sent winging around the Internet accompanied by a fictitious explanation of its origins.

The device depicted in this video does not exist, at the University of Iowa or anywhere else. It’s an example of a computer-animated music video, this one entitled “Pipe Dream” and taken from one of several similar segments on a DVD produced by Animusic. An excerpt of the original can be viewed on the Animusic web site.

In 2011, Intel debuted Intel Industrial Control in Concert, a real-life version of a high-tech syncopated orchestra inspired by the Animusic video:
The crowd-pleasing project cost approximately $160,000 to build and debuted at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
pipe dream
The orchestra’s conductor is a palm-sized computer motherboard powered by an Intel Atom processor surrounded by dozens of wires and white PVC tubing that snakes from one instrument to the next. The seven embedded Atom computer systems operate a video security camera to sense accuracy of the moving parts, a digital synthesizer for the sound, digital signage and a multi-touch interactive display that allows people to see what makes the whole operation hit the right notes.

Rubber paintballs are fired by

the sensor-equipped, computer powered system to create a song that has 2,372 notes.

“This was done from concept to creation in 90 days,” said Marc Christenson from Sisu Devices, an Austin, Texas-based technology integration company that builds motion, vision and machine control automation.

“This thing has seven Atom processors total, from three different generations, that are working together harmoniously to play the song,” said Christenson, whose company co-built the musical demonstration project with Intel.

“It’s running three different operating systems, including Windows-embedded XP as a real-time operating system,” he said. “It has 250 industrial interconnects, 36 paintball hoppers that shoot rubber, glow-in-the-dark paint balls to play 2,372 notes in the song.”