Naming our project

Possible names:









Lucis vivae

ai - lamp


The final poster for our hand-in. I used a minimalist like-style with this piece as the photography we undertook allowed us a lot of white space to play with. Leaving large amounts of white space within the composition allows the main points of the piece, being the lamp and Shanshan’s face to be the focal points of the piece. The text is in this, simple helvetica style and in black, covering a small amount of space as possible before being unnoticeable.

Some documentation I undertook,I wanted to create a collection of these development videos to make a small video showing some of our progress and process.

So the 600-800 word write-up got a little out of control in my hands, I hit around 1200 words so I need to talk to Doug and see if this is okay. In any case this copy will stay here on my blog as I feel it fully documents our project.

 MDDN251: Project 2


Adam-Ben Dror, Joss Doggett, Shanshan Zhou

Our project began open and with many differing ideas and opinions, ranging from the simple but beautiful to the insanely complicated and tasking. But through the process of elimination and the combination of both logical and creative thinking we managed to create a set idea that would start us on our journey. The idea being: take an everyday object and breathe life into it. This object would look and or act completely as expected at first, but then do something completely unordinary and unexpected in the intention of instilling surprise in the user.

Inspirations and precedents for the development of this idea into a physical concept comprised of such works as produced by the Attenborough Design Group, including a dancing radio that played no music and a floppy disk drive that would rise up on spindly legs to avoid liquids.  Both precedents were created with a simple idea to our own as they both still featured an ordinary appearance until some interaction was undertaken, at which point they would act in an unexpected manner. Using these and other precedents, we created several of our own concepts, which were further discussed and conceptualized and further whittled down to a single concept. Our concept went as such, to create or take an adjustable reading lamp which, when switched on, instead of providing light for its user, would unexpectedly come alive and directly interact with the user in a number of ways. 

With this set firmly in stone we began to explore the three main design practices that would pave the way for our project, the physical design, the digital design and the narrative design. These three fields were allocated among the group in the most fitting manner. As the Industrial Design student Adam undertook the physical design of the lamp, with the experience and knowledge with materials and physical design necessary to make a functioning and aesthetically pleasing lamp. The challenge of the digital design was allocated to Shanshan, with her experience with coding and the logical mind necessary to craft the code that would act as the brain for our lamp. The final challenge of the narrative design was undertaken by myself, with my experience in interaction design, crafting narratives and illustration more than fitting for the challenge. While each member of the group had their own field to work with, communication and co-operative work between fields played a massive part of the project, and a member essentially undertook not one field alone. Collaborative decisions and help from one another was key to the progression of our project.

With our concept effectively visualized, we began designs and drafts within each of our fields. Much work was undertaken in the physical portion of the project, we purchased our own desktop reading lamp to undertake experimentation on for servos and other features, though a portion of the experimental lamp essentially became part of our final product. Much strengthening was made to the structure, including the replacement of almost all joints and a lot of the body itself, to accommodate the implementation of servos and to make the lamp stable. Replacement parts for the lamp were created using a variety of different materials ranging from metals to acrylic, depending on where they were being fitted and their role on the body. With the body strengthened an array of servos were fitted to the lamp to control a wide variety of movement, in its final form the lamp has the ability to move its head vertically and horizontally, three more servos in the body controlled bodily movements to compliment the movement of the head allowing for more fluid and animalistic movement. A switch and webcam were also fitted within the body of the lamp to act as sensors, though these relate more to the digital field of the project. Just as much time and effort was poured into the digital design within our project, with an early decision being made to use Processing alongside Arduino as its libraries were far too basic. To give our lamp a brain it first needed sensory input. While we toyed and experimented with the concept of using sound as our main input, utilizing such methods as sound triangulation, the concept of using a webcam, mounted in the head of the camera, emerged as a more-appealing, achievable idea, as it would produce better results essentially meaning a better experience. A long worked-upon facial recognition system was utilized to allow the lamp to interact with people around it directly, following their faces to create a sense of awareness and curiosity. Narratively, our project required a lot of development as new discoveries were made about our lamp. It was necessary to design and test a variety of poses that the lamp would undertake to show certain emotions and moods, such as looking inquisitive, excited or laughing. A wide variety of these were produced by hand as sketches and progressed to digital form, assisting with programming emotion and also providing goals for the physical design of the lamp, as the body would require certain directions of movement to arrange itself into such positions, and an amount of strength to hold the pose or undergo an emotion and return from it. A major narrative decision explored and undertaken within the project was the consideration of the lamps environment. By itself within a scene the lamp lacked a story, a reason for existing past the point of just interacting with those around it. The book was introduced to the experience as an object that the lamp held very dear, being a reading lamp it essentially took on a guard-like persona over the book. Throughout the experience, the book is placed in front of the lamp, as it likes to check on a regular basis. If the book is moved from its position the lamp becomes erratic and panicky, desperate to the safety of its prize possession.

With everything we have undergone and though we had several technical issues on the day , we could not have been happier with the turn-out of our final experience. The lamp excelled physically, humming and whirring as its servos worked its body to create an arrangement of emotions that was complimented fantastically by the coding implemented into it. The code was finely tuned to the point where while the lamp would undergo its normal behaviors to a tee, including following faces the lamp sees and working with the servos to achieve emotion, it would show small movements and gestures that only strengthened its personality even more. The narrative of the lamp also proved itself effective when utilized, the work on emotion and gestures assisted in more realisitic movements and a greater show of emotion through the lamp, and the other features incorporated such as the book added much more meaning and depth to the scene. Seeing the three finely tuned into each other in such a manner was amazing to observe after all this time and we are all incredibly satisfied with the final experience we have created.

Joss Doggett

The arranged slideshow for our Beta hand-in.

My illustrated storyboard for our lamp project.

These are some quick illustrations I banged up to try and portray some actions and emotions that we want our lamp to undergo, the biggest challenge is exaggerating these actions to strengthen the intended emotion with our character as I have tried to showcase here.

Covering the finalisation of the lamp personality.
The lamp needs to feature an underlying message and/or story rather than just acting curious or scared, narrative is important.

Concept: the lamps purpose is a reading lamp, its job in life, and essentially its whole life, revolves around it being used to read or observe a book and/or other objects. If you attempt to interact with it you discover its true intentions, may include defensiveness over its possessions, curiosity or maybe just the desire to be used.

Reacts to switch clicks, observer should be under the impression that the lamp is ordinary until the user interacts with it. Once the user attempts to turn it off it will not, the lamp is in control and is leading its own life. This can/will lead into the past idea for the lamps purpose and personality.

Physical vs Fiction -

While there was a great amount of criticism concerning apparent similarities with our project to the Luxo Jr Pixar lamp, we are undeterred to change certain aspects of the lamp, though these claims, possibly somewhat harsh at the time, do hold some some relevance. With this in mind we as a group have begun finalising the personality and story of the lamp, this separate personality and story was always a reality, but setting it in stone will allow us to move away from the claims that our project is uncreative and unoriginal.

An animated product is in itself an everyday product, animation and CGI has become so commonplace as a story-telling device. The project we are working on differs from this animation cliche’ very strongly in the fact that it is a physical object, when it undergoes its interaction with a subject it has a considerable larger amount of story and shock to personality to share than an animated product or character.