Intel – Pipe Dream

“Could Animusic’s Pipe Dream be made in real life?”

That was the question when Intel approached Sisu Devices to create a show-stopping demo for its 2011 Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

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

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


This machine was built, from concept to completion, in just 90 days. It uses 7 Intel Atom processors to control three servo motors, 4 industrial displays, 1 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 has been featured at IDF, Embedded World, Intel Sales Conference, Maker Faire, and NIWeek.

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