Smarter than the average lamp

02:00, Dec 10 2012
Smart lamp
A lamp created by Victoria University students can recognise faces - and gets confused when it can't see one.

A lamp with the ability to recognise and respond to humans has been created by a group of Victoria University students.

Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Gur and Joss Doggett created the lamp named "Pinokio" and brought it to life using robotic computing.

It uses a webcam, algorithms, robotics and facial recognition technology to move around. It responds to human faces and tries to maintain eye contact.

Pinokio's programmer and software engineer Shanshan Zhou told the New Zealand Herald that the lamp basically behaved like a dog.

"That looking around behaviour is totally random in a completely organic way. It's very curious, it's kind of like a baby ... it's more interested in a human face than anything else. If you cover your face, it gets confused."

Pinokio will also flick itself back on after being switched off.


The group call the project ''an exploration into the expressive and behavioural potentials of robotic computing''. The lamp has the ability to recognise its environment and to express a range of behaviour.

Ms Zhou told the Herald that the focus of the project wasn't functionality but to pose the question: ''What if an industrial object is created not as an obedient tool, but to live?''

The lamp was a way to explore the potential of a ''living algorithm''.

A video of the lamp has so far attracted more than 600,000 views on Vimeo.

Contact Shabnam Dastgheib
Breaking news reporter
Twitter: @shab_d

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