Sonic Scanner

The Sonic Scanner enables the user to create sounds by scanning different pictures. The instrument offers four different modes: waveform, spectrum, rhythm and sampler. The waveform mode uses the brightness levels of the picture to produce corresponding audio frequencies. Spectrum uses FFT to translate the optical spectrum into an audio spectrum. Rhythm functions similar to the waveform mode but at a slower rate in order to produce more rhythmical textures. The sampler mode enables the user to record a sound and then manipulate it using the Sonic Scanner.

Barcode Scanners

A barcode is a graphical representation of data found on the majority of purchasable products. Using a barcode scanner the data can be decoded and used to identify the product. In the 1990s Epoch developed the Barcode Battler device that was able to read barcodes and create a character based on it. It was then possible to battle characters against one another.

Other companies have also released their own variants including the Skannerz.

This post is taken from the theoretical playground forum in 2004, where I asked whether people had used barcode scanners to make music. At the time a number of musicians were identified including barcodemusic who describe their process of making music. A more recent search found a post on makezine.com called beats from a barcode featuring a project by barcode beats.