Honorable Mention - Tesla Coil Music SystemSteve Conner created this visual instrument for a Danish art group and it's basically "an adaptor board that [is] connected [to] internal tone generators on a Roland JX-8P synth".
The board converted the volume envelope to burst length, so the harder you pounded the keys, the bigger the sparks got. Hitting a high pitched note hard would blow the fuses, and the MIDI arrangements had to take this into account[Source]
5. World's Smallest Functional Grand PianoThis is claimed to be the world's smallest functional grand piano. It can either be played manually (w/sticks) or automatically via the built-in computer.
4. Toyota's Trumpet Playing RobotToyota recently showcased their new line of trumpet playing robots -- designed to entertain and "function as assistants" for the elderly -- at the Toyota Hall in Japan. Technical specifications have not yet been released.
3. Virtual PianoDID's (Digital Information Development) portable virtual piano lets you turn any surface into a musical keyboard. It uses "a red semiconductor laser module and holographic optical element" to project "a 25-key 2-octave keyboard onto the surface in front of it." Expect to shell out $130 for this gadget when it's released in November.
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. The keyboard has 3 other voices in addition to piano — organ, pipe organ and harpsichord[Source]
2. AudiopadMIT graduates James Patten and Ben Recht designed the Audiopad, an interactive tabletop system which tracks the position of objects and converts their motion into music. For those who haven't already seen the Audiopad, video demonstration after the jump. It's an oldie but goodie.
Audiopad has a matrix of antenna elements which track the positions of electronically tagged objects on a tabletop surface. Software translates the position information into music and graphical feedback on the tabletop. Each object represents either a musical track or a microphone.
1. World's First Self-Playing Violin"Virtuoso" is claimed to be the world's first self-playing violin. Basically, "an invisible hand glides the bow across the strings producing a genuine violin sound -- with no human in sight." One drawback, it costs a whopping $17,500.
Developed by Paroutaud Music Laboratories, the Virtuoso violin was invented by TV and film scorer Fred Paroutaud and the late Dr. Thomas Paine, administrator of NASA during the Apollo moon flights and the former president of Northrop Corporation