The Beamz has arrived! I have waited patiently (or not-so-much!) for a couple of weeks since the ILT2014 conference for my Beamz hardware unit to arrive. And boy oh boy it was so worth it! For those not in the know, the Beamz looks like something out of Star Trek that plays music with laser beams. How fricken cool is that! I first saw this bit of tech during the conference keynote when ‘Tweetwood Mac’ rocked the house with one:
There are two key components to it, the actual hardware itself and the software to work with it. There is an app for the iPad as well as software for Windows and Mac. I have been playing with the iPad app whilst I have been waiting for the hardware to arrive, and even that by itself is pretty damn amazing – and FREE! Set-up of the hardware is a breeze, simply install the program or app, then either plug the Beamz into the PC with the supplied USB cable or pair it using Bluetooth with the iPad. Then start playing. No really that all there is to it! You can control the experience using the software or the hardware, with each song there are three different musical instrument sets preconfigured and you can swap between them as you play.
On the subject of songs, there are about 30 that come with the hardware (depending on the version you buy though I believe) and over 450 others you can buy & download from their online store. They have all genres covered by the looks of it, from Pop & Rock to New Age, Country and Classical. And you know it is going to be cool when Flo Rida is involved with something.
Now this device isnt just about being funky and fun. There can be a serious side to it too. My organisation purchased the Beamz for use in our service to support people with disabilities. It is brilliant at encouraging co-operative play, turn taking, interaction and engagement. It supports a number of alternative triggers, such as eye gaze, switches and adaptive keyboards. And it makes music and fun so accessible to everyone. The team at Spectronics have a write-up over on their website about it, you NEED to check it out.
Okay, so right about now you will be saying something like ‘that’s really amazing, but I can’t afford that system, it must cost thousands!’. I know you are, because I said the same thing. But here is the best part. It is thousands of dollars, it isnt even a single thousand dollars. Depending on the model you buy, and the type of case if you want one (and I recommend the hard travel case because you WILL be wanting to take this around to show it off!) you will pay between AU$329 and AU$528. That’s all. So now you know that, what is stopping you from heading over to the Spectronics page and buying one, or two, or three??