When I see a cute critter like Fizzgig or an Ewok in a movie, I want to take it home with me. I get the same feeling when I see Pixar's sweet Luxo Jr. lamp mascot. It's like a little metal puppy you want to hold on your lap and take care of.
The sprightly lamp has now hopped out of the screen and into the real world thanks to a project created at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand by Adam Ben-Dror, Joss Doggett, and Shanshan Zhou. This lamp is black, rather than white like Luxo Jr. The project is called Pinokio and the lamp is imaginatively named "Lamp."
Pinokio uses six servos, a Webcam, and Arduino to track human faces, play hide-and-seek, hear sounds, and try really hard to get your attention.
The project's description includes this explanation: "Pinokio is an exploration into the expressive and behavioural potentials of robotic computing." That may sound a little dry, but what it really means is that humans don't require fluffy fur and a heartbeat to get all mushy about something.
The lamp's movements and ability to interact with people imbues the cold metal gadget with a puppy-like charm. Pinokio's hide-and-seek skills are on par with a baby's, which somehow makes the lamp even more adorable.
I would love to have a Pinokio on my desk, but I'm afraid I would feel guilty if I neglected it. Plus, my cats would get jealous.