MIT Student Turns Lamp into a Thinking, Robotic Assistant

The MIT Media Lab never ceases to amaze us – its latest invention is from Natan Linder, and at first glance could be taken as a quirky looking desktop lamp. Oh, but LuminAR is so much more than a light source. It’s a personal computer, desktop helper robot and research assistant all in one! For a demonstration watch the video after the jump.

When plugged into a robotic arm, the LuminAR will search out an uncluttered space on your desktop to project on using a teeny tiny pico projector, and you can also point it in a certain direction or pre-program it to open your e-mail on the left and your website on the right. Or you can unscrew the bulb from the robotic arm and screw it into a standard desk lamp or portable light socket and bring the LuminAR wherever you please.

“This is a new form factor for a computer,” Linder says. “Most computers that we know of today are prison cells for pixels -this robotic interface releases the pixels from the screen.” And the LuminAR is smart, put a can of Coke under its watchful eye and it will pull up the Coca-Cola webpage. And this doesn’t work only with Coke cans – LuminAR recognizes a lot of things.

This nifty piece of technology — and it really is little, measuring just a bit larger than a regular light bulb — could revolutionize the way we compute. As for now we’d love to have one of these to help research our stories here at Inhabitat!