Intel – Pipe Dream

Building Animusic’s Pipe Dream in Real Life…

and Powering it with the Intel Atom Processor

In 2001, a company called Animusic produced an incredible music video called “Pipe Dream.” It showed a room filled with musical instruments “played” by ball bearings shooting out of pipes.

A prank circled the Internet that the University of Iowa created the machine from used pieces of farm equipment. The truth, however, was that the video was computer generated. But that raised a question. Could it be made in real life?


In 2011, The Intel Corporation wanted to show the versatility of the Intel Atom processor in industrial control and digital signage. Seven of these processors control various aspects of the demo along with three servo motors, four industrial displays, one vision tracking system, 30 solenoids, 20 pneumatic cylinders, and 23 automatic paintball hoppers.

Each performance means shooting over 2300 balls to produce 120 unique notes. The balls are glow-in-the-dark, reusable paintballs from a company called Reball.

The demo was built in 90 days from concept to creation and has been featured at IDF, Embedded World, Intel Sales Conference, Maker Faire, and NIWeek.

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