Hacked IKEA Lamp Changes Colors Based On How You Feel


The Mood Lamp by Vittorio Cuculo shows how facial recognition can transform inanimate objects into communicative devices.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 3 july 2014

Italian developer Vittorio Cuculo hooked up an IKEA lamp to a computer with facial recognition software and enabled it to translate the emotional state of the user into a corresponding color.

According to the developer’s paper about the project, the aim of the system is to “remove the mediation between human and machine typical of classic interfaces.” The interaction between man and machine is usually through speech, gestures, gaze tracking, and facial expressions. Cuculo puts emphasis on facial expressions because they figure significantly in non-verbal communication between people.

Cuculo describes his Mood Lamp project as an interaction system that uses facial recognition to communicate an emotional state to an RGB lamp and receive a response in the form of changing light colors.


The whole system works with a computer and a web cam that captures the image of the owner’s face.The system uses OpenCV image processing and analysis to identify emotional states through the movements of the face’s fiducial points or specific marks that are used as reference. The software takes note of details like the position of the person’s chin, their eyebrows, and the movement of their eyes and lips. The lamp is made with an Arduino Duemilanoverduino microcontroller and it changes color depending on the mood or emotional state of the user. The lamp changes its color based on the emotional state of the owner as translated from their facial expression.

Cuculo uploaded a video demonstrating how the lamp works. In the video, the lamp glowed a somewhat neutral color at the beginning when the developer had a neutral facial expression, and when he smiled the light color of the lamp began to change to pink. The color of the lamp changed again when he made a look of “surprise” and the color slowly turned to a bright blue when the developer started to frown. The lamp light changed back to pink when he smiled again.


Vittorio Cuculo

Source: Arduino Blog


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