ITP Thesis Week 2009
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May 8


Mooshir Vahanvati

A light full of life

Maximus is envisioned as a pet robotic table lamp with a personality. It retains the same form as that of a standard table lamp, but mimics human behavior and emotions. Not only does Maximus react to its surroundings, but also reflects on its reactions and changes behavior. The main aim of this project was to inject life into the everyday inanimate objects that surround us. Table lamp being a close personal object allows for such an opportunity.

User Scenario
Maximus is in sleep state as no one has been around him for quite some time. John comes back into the room.¬ As the photo sensors pick up motion, Maximus goes into a greeting state welcoming John back and expects John to interact with him. John does so by tickling Max by moving his fingers around Max’s limbs. Gratified by the gesture, Max turns the lights brighter, and starts playing around with John. He follows his hand by tracking it, moves around teasing John, looks up and down time to time etc. John takes a seat on the chair and gets on with his work. Max takes a proper position and provides light to John as he works, moving ever so often based on the movement of John’s hand on his desk. After a while, there is a car siren sound from outside. Max looks at the new source of sound and explores in that area. Realizing that the sound has past, Max gets back to the position he was previously in and keeps assisting John.

Maximus is an amalgamation of a standard table lamp and a robotic arm. It was 5 degrees of freedom (DOF) and hence is capable of positioning itself in various different postures. Each joint is powered by servomotors, which in turn are controlled by a microcontroller.
For reacting with the environment and other people, Maximus had three senses namely, sight, sound and touch. It is equipped with 4 photo sensors in lampshade, which allow it to judge the amount of ambient light, and also movement of light. There are 4 microphones in the base of the lamp, which allow it to judge the direction of sound and respond to it accordingly and finally each limb of the lamp has capacitive touch sensors by which it can know when people are touching it.