A light based electronic music controller/visualizer


Optron is a light-based electronic music controller & visualizer invented by Chet Udell. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary florescent lamp. Underneath however is a powerful combination of bleeding edge electronics and RGB LED array. It is held and performed much like a guitar.

Inspired by Japanese noise artist Atsuhiro Ito, who in 1998 created the first Optron comprised of an amplified commercial florescent light controlled directly (and dangerously) by manipulating voltage out of the wall into the lamp by hand and amplified sound, Udell transformed this concept into a safer and massively flexible electronic instrument.

What it does

Hearing Light, Seeing Sound

With the power of 144 ultra-bright, individually addressable RGB LEDs, Optron can rapidly switch between using light as a visual effect and using it as control input. In visualization mode, sound and other important performance status information is analyzed and translated into serial data and sent to the Optron to render as colored light patterns. Alternatively, when paired with a webcam and computer visualization software, light position and color become controller information, that can be wielded by waving hands over the lights or moving the Optron itself in space.

Responsive to touch, proximity, posture, motion

Optron is worn with a strap around the neck and can be played using guitar inspired and not-so-guitar inspired gestures. It can sense position and pressure of finger presses on its 'neck,' hand-waiving and strumming gestures, and also responds to tilt and motion in space. In all, 15 individual wireless sensor streams enable multi-modal gestural control.