Fabian Gerlinghaus, a German engineering student, developed a robotic desk lamp that is capable of expressing emotions by means of its body language and can track objects and faces with an integrated webcam. In cooperation with the Technical University of Munich, Gerlinghaus developed a prototype (video on www.opengertie.org). Currently negotiations with several companies are taking place to commercialize the lamp.
Using programming by demonstration, the user can teach the lamp new movements within a few seconds. The lamp is manually guided in the desired movement. This movement is then recorded and can be played back afterwards. Using this technique Gerlinghaus developed a body languge for the lamp which already encompasses joy, sadness, surprise and fear.
Gerlinghaus' vision is a designer lamp with some extraordinary features next to the decorative and functional aspect. Using simple image recognition algorithms the lamp can recognize faces and track people with its gaze. This would enable Skype calls in which the user can freely move in the room, without disappearing from the field of vision. The desk lamp would serve as an automated cameraman. Additionally the user can bind certain computer events to movements of the lamp. Incoming mail or skype calls would trigger excitement in the desk lamp.