A Real-Life Pixar Lamp that interacts with the world around it

Luxo Jr., the bubbly, bobbing drafting lamp that serves as Pixar’s mascot, is proof that mundane objects can be brought to life affectingly when endowed with the right personalities

Of course, those objects only made us go “aww” through the magic of animation. But Pinokio, a brilliant project by three students at Victoria University of Wellington, proves that the concept can hold true in the physical world, even when the lamp in question is wrought out of steel and aluminum.

For the project, students Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror, and Joss Doggett brought an ordinary desk lamp to life with the help of six servo motors, a webcam, some Arduino, and a bit of Processing magic. In place of a bulb, the webcam tracks the movement of people sitting nearby, provoking the lamp to mug, hide, investigate, and, when ignored, beg for attention. Thanks to a modified microphone, it can respond to noises, too. The result is something that doesn’t just respond to certain triggers with a few rote movements, but rather an object that behaves expressively and dynamically in accordance with what’s going on around it.

The trio of students didn’t simply set out to recreate Luxo, however–they looked a number of everyday objects, like Coke cans, chairs, books, and newspapers, before deciding on the lamp as the final candidate. But their key insight was in deciding to bring that object to life in a way that made made sense for that specific object. Zhou says she drew from lessons she learned in animation classes, things like character building and story telling, to bring Pinokio to life.

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Source: Fast Company