You’re not cool now? You will be, as your hands dance to the rhythm through the magical lasers.

A few moments of your playing, and nothing could possibly convince me that you didn’t grow up on the streets of Jamaica, banging oil drums you salvaged and hammered into shape.

Whoops, sorry — had to snap out of that for a second.

So, okay — it seems the beamz laser harp we saw last week comes with special algorithmic software that makes music play basically regardless of what you do. The problem with laser harps in general is they tend to the button-pressing variety: that is, you’re waving your arms around like crazy, but really the laser sensor is either off or on. (There are ways around that, but … well, not here.)

Watch closely as someone leaves their hand in front of the harp and does nothing. And this, of course, is what real instruments have going for them — that you have to work hard to play them, and that’s actually kind of the fun of it. It’s like basketball: if you just held down a button the entire game and a robot played for you, it would be easier, but that wouldn’t necessarily be better. Even as a computer game, we expect multiple buttons, and actual difficulty. If you waved your hands around and wore sunglasses and had a $600 gadget from Sharper Image and pretended to play basketball, that wouldn’t be much of an improvement, either. I’m not sure why music is excepted from this rule, but then, many things about this world provide amazement and confusion.

Yes, technically Guitar Hero / Rock Band does the same thing. Except that it has actual difficulty. And has real songs. And is fun. Whereas this is painful. And it’s about as expensive than Rock Band plus a PS3.

That leaves two questions.

First, there’s the academic question of how generative musical algorithms could be controlled via more expressive input devices — so that generative music felt creative, and not just holding down a button and letting the computer figure out what to play. I’m not sure you’ll find the answer in the Euro-Pop-imagical beamz, but I’m just saying.

Second, how come this girl is getting totally dumped on?


Oh, sure. I see how this works. The “everyone sounds great!” caption just happens to go with this poor young woman.

The entire video is nothing but dorky white dudes (yeah, I know — takes one to know one). We’re supposed to believe that by wearing aviator glasses and cheap headphones and pretending to be totally into their own playing, these guys are really rock stars enjoying the new frontiers opened by Sharper Image laser gimmickry.

But the young girl in the penguin-emblazoned vest? It’s sheer technological wonder that she can produce the same crap as the rest of them.

I think the video captions have it backwards. I mean, she has a robot dog and stuff. She’s going to tire of the beamz and go back to programming the Game Boy tracker she coded herself.

Give Penguin Girl a break.