Gertie - the robotic lamp with a personality

Gertie the Robotic Desk Lamp is a novel research platform that has five degrees of freedom, and is equipped with a camera and microphone in its lamp shade. These features make Gertie a flexible and low-cost resource for conducting research into cognitive products and human-robot interaction.

By imitating human body language Gertie is capable of expressing four of the basic Ekman emotions: joy, sadness, surprise and fear. We conducted an online video study to investigate how well the emotions expressed by Gertie are recognized by human audiences.

In total 84 participants were shown one video for each of the four emotions and they were asked to identify, with a multiple choice test, which of seven emotions Gertie expressed.

While joy and sadness were recognized very reliably with 81% and 88% of all people giving the correct answer, fear and surprise were more commonly misinterpreted as surprise (45%) and disgust (29%).

However, all emotions were recognized above the chance level percentage of 14%.

More information on Gertie's website.


  • Five Degrees of Freedom
  • USB Webcam and Microphone integrated in the Lamp Shade
  • Spring Mechanisms for Gravity Compensation of Joints
  • Programming by Demonstration
  • Compatible with the Robot Operating System (ROS)
  • ROS Interface for the Skype API
  • Sample Software for Object Tracking