A Robotic, Real-Life Pixar Lamp Plays Peekaboo Adorably

Students program a desktop lamp to react to faces and sounds, creating an expressive animatronic character just like Pixar's. 

Pixar's first film, Luxo Jr., came out in 1986, pioneering computer animation techniques and establishing the perky hopping lamp you still see in its logo today. The character went on to get nominated for an Academy Award and even inspired an awesome Halloween costume (below). 

More recently, the little guy spawned a real life doppelganger in the form of an animatronic desk lamp by students at Victoria University of Wellington in New ZealandShanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror, and Joss Doggett programmed a camera-equipped lamp with to detect faces and sounds, allowing it to interact with humans in a charmingly basic way -- kind of like a baby playing peekaboo. They call the project Pinokio, describing it on their Vimeo page:

Pinokio is an exploration into the expressive and behavioural potentials of robotic computing. Customized computer code and electronic circuit design imbues Lamp with the ability to be aware of its environment, especially people, and to expresses a dynamic range of behaviour. As it negotiates its world, we the human audience can see that Lamp shares many traits possessed by animals, generating a range of emotional sympathies. In the end we may ask: Is Pinokio only a lamp? – a useful machine? Perhaps we should put the book aside and meet a new friend.

Via the Daily What

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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