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19-year-old builds robot that uses facial recognition to shine a laser in your eye

The Robot That Shines a Laser in Your Eye
One of the most exciting parts of this job is getting a glimpse at what kind of innovations the next generation of socially-conscious entrepreneurs — raised on the dream that technology can positively impact on all of our lives — will strive to create.

That’s what 19-year-old university student Michael Reeves has done with his … wait a second, he’s done nothing of the kind!

Instead, Reeves has poured his budding tech expertise into building a robot which uses facial recognition to shine a laser into the eye of anyone who dares use it. And, no, just in case you’re wondering, this isn’t some prototypical laser eye surgery technology; we’re talking about a laser pointer designed purely to annoy.

“I combined a multitude of useful technologies into one completely useless invention, as per my goal,” Reeves told Digital Trends. “It detects your face and shoots you in the eyes with a laser. The machine takes in video and sends it to my computer which is running the software I wrote. The software processes it and sends coordinate data to a microcontroller inside of the machine, which in turn sends signals to the servos for pan and tilt respectively.”

Reeves may be a prankster, but one thing he isn’t is selfish. If anyone else wants to join him in building their own “sh*tty robot” laser flasher he’s made the C# source code available to download here. You’ll need a webcam, a pair of servos for panning and tilting, and a laser pointer to pull it off, but Reeves says he plans to show how to do this — and show how the software’s calibration setting work — in a subsequent video.

As for future plans to expand the project? “Aside from minor optimizations that just nag at me, no plans as of now,” he continued. “I don’t have a lot of time to focus on personal projects between work, my company, and school, but the overwhelming support is definitely a motivator for more effort.”

Because more laser-shining robot troublemakers is just what the world needs, right?

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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