Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Customized computer code and electronic circuits gives a lamp uncanny lifelike behaviors

Here's a charming little film featuring an animated lamp that is part of a project titled Pinokio. Despite how it may appear, this NOT done with stop motion animation.

From the Pinokio project video description:

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.

Pinokio was a collaborative project created by Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dror, and Joss Doggett using Processing, Arduino, and OpenCV. The creators admit that Pinokio may not be the most intelligent robot ever produced, but that doesn't mean it isn't special.

Says Shanshan Zhou

Just like Pinocchio the puppet who comes to life and confidently proclaims "I'm a real boy" – it is the irrepressible and seemingly instinctive impulse of living for its own sake in Pinokio that shines forth in poetry and magic.

Indeed, the expressive and behavioral qualities make Pinokio come alive in a visceral way. Any time that a machine can do that, something remarkable has happened. Here is a fascinating video of the project in progress, complete with a Lamp-point-of-view monitor:

The project was created as for the course MDDN 251: Physical computing at Victoria University of Wellington, as part of their module on animatronics. Well done. Well done.

[ Thanks Christoph! ]

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