IKEA Lamp With Raspberry Pi As The Smartest Bulb In The House

We love to hack IKEA products, marvel at Raspberry Pi creations, and bask in the glow of video projection. [Nord Projects] combined these favorite things of ours into Lantern, a name as minimalist as the IKEA lamp it uses. But the result is nearly magic.

The key component in this build is a compact laser-illuminated video projector whose image is always in focus. Lantern’s primary user interface is moving the lamp around to switch between different channels of information projected on different surfaces. It would be a hassle if the user had to refocus after every move, but the focus-free laser projector eliminates that friction.

A user physically changing the lamp’s orientation is detected by Lantern’s software via an accelerometer. Certain channels project an information overlay on top of a real world object. Rather than expecting its human user to perform precise alignment, Lantern gets feedback from a Raspberry Pi camera to position the overlay.

Speaking of software, Lantern as presented by [Nord Projects] is a showcase project under Google’s Android Things umbrella that we’ve mentioned before. But there is nothing tying the hardware directly to Google. Since the project is open source with information on Hackster.io and GitHub, the choice is yours. Build one with Google as they did, or write your own software to tie into a different infrastructure (MQTT?), or a standalone unit with no connectivity at all.

We’ve had IKEA lamps hacked to project an LED array and we’ve had Raspberry Pi built into a video projector. Now that they’ve been brought together, what’s next? Perhaps incorporate some servos for a motorized Lantern?

[via Raspberrypi.org]


27 thoughts on “IKEA Lamp With Raspberry Pi As The Smartest Bulb In The House

  1. i have read about this on other sites as well today, and while the headline on hackaday is definitely better than most of the other sites, this build is actually not so much about the IKEA lamp as one might be led to believe. the lamp is merely a case to hold the components and the cheapest part of the build. the lamp is about 10€ here in germany, while the laserprojector is about 300 €. total cost should be about 500 € ?
    it just does not feel right to talk about a hacked ikea lamp, if you put 500 bucks of hardware (not ikea) into an 10 bucks ikea lamp case.

    1. And yet we always mention the Altoids tin too. Or the old radio case enclosing the MPD player. Or…

      Are we superficial? Maybe. But “fantastic laser projector housed in unpainted, unremarkable, off-the-shelf aluminum case” just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi, right?

    2. You could skip the lamp entirely and mount the components on a webcam desk stand (these are just the desk lamp arms/springs without the lamp) to get the same results, but I think the video is mostly about showing off clean design and build aesthetics.

      1. “The European Union did indeed usher a guideline on the use of the euro sign, stating it should be placed in front of the amount without any space in English, but after the amount in most other languages.

        In English, the euro sign—like the dollar sign ($) and the pound sign (£)—is placed before the figure”

        In practice in many countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Latvia and Lithuania they put it after, in Ireland and the Netherlands before the numbers.

          1. Saw the euro sign behind the amount (with a space) twice, and looked up if there is a right way because it looks odd to me with a space and behind the amount.
            Then thought I’d share my findings. And seeing basically anything goes in terms of use there is no finger pointing really.

          2. @RFP-A, haha, it’s all good. I actually just copied the price from somewhere else on this page. I’d normally put the currency symbol before the amount if typing it, but there didn’t seem to be any reason to change it.
            So what do you think? Would you put a projector in a lamp? I like anglepoise type lamps but I don’t think this is for me, I’d want to be able to move the lamp without the projected image shaking, have it more like shining a light on a virtual surface.

    1. No, but it would be great for watching youtube when I’m meant to be studying! If I had internet in my room :( (Goes and builds Wifi Yagi antenna ) (Then realises there’s no practical way to connect it to the pi)

      1. You can add a u.fl connector on a raspberry pi quite easily. You just need a fine tip and something to magnify with. It’s one of the easiest hardware mods that I’ve done on a pi; far easier than removing the usb ports.

  2. Guys, the “compact laser-illuminated video projector” itself would deserve an article on its own! I didn’t even know it existed… It would be very interesting to know more about it.

    I use to make shadows plays using the light of simple laser microscopes (those you obtain by pointing a green laser to a drop of water) just because they cast shadows which are always in focus. This laser projector would be a huge step forward!

    1. While the 720p resolution may be ok, the maximum brightness of 100 lumens and 1000:1 contrast is not.
      A good old fashined incandescent light bulb with 15W rating has 100 to 140 lumens. you would need a pitch black room for this projector and even then it is not very bright.

    2. It’s interesting it’s literally a “laser-illuminated video projector”. It’s STILL just got a LCD in there (LCOS, actually). It’s just the light source has been replaced by the laser (presumably three: Red, Green and Blue, and presumably frame-sequential, {ick.}). You’re still throwing most of that laser light power away in the liquid crystal modulator.

      It’s entirely unlike a true scanned-laser projector like the original PicoP from MicroVision: http://www.microvision.com/technology/ , which is also considerably smaller. A true scanned-laser projector puts ALL its laser light on the screen, doesn’t waste battery power making extra light just to end up to heating up the modulator, and doesn’t do the seizure-inducing frame-sequential color that looks OK only when display static powerpoints.

  3. About 6 years ago WallMart Was selling kids LCD Projectors for $30.
    I cleaned the store out. I bought all 4 of them.
    Yea they were 320×240. But for $30 OH YEA.
    I ended up selling 2 of them to get my money back.
    Blew one up. Still have the guts to the last one.
    Waiting for the right project to put it in.

    One thing in life I’m good at. Getting good deals on electronics.

    1. I’m amazed at how most somewhat doable projectors on chinese sites still have rather poor resolution. I would have expected that by 2018 1080P would be more common for a ‘normal’ price and that the cost difference would be about the bulb used.
      But nope.you can’t pick what goes cheap.

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