CNET has a story about a machine that elicits sounds from objects. Designer Dennis Paul calls the device the Instrument for the Sonification of Everyday Things.
Here is how it works, according to the story:
The machine rotates objects, repeatedly scans their surfaces, and translates the measured distance values into audible frequencies, notes, and scales using a custom-programmed translator and controller module. Silhouettes of the goods define the loops.
The story doesn’t say whether Paul is aware that he and the folks he works with are the first John Cage cover band.