Teddy Bears have been a part of our childhood and many of us still remember those moments when we would sleep peacefully by tightly hugging a Teddy. Keeping in mind all the emotional warmth that we garner from hugging a Teddy, MIT and Boston Hospital have come together to make a robotic ‘Huggable’ teddy. The idea behind this vivid experiment is to bring together human behavior and science.
Dr. Peter Weinstock from Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Cynthia Breazeal, Director of the personal robots group at MIT Media Lab have worked together to bring out the ‘Huggable’, the study is to see that whether the robot can provide medicinal value to the children who stay at the hospital for a longer duration. Boston Children’s hospital has invested around $500,000 in the research of social robotics, which also includes the ‘Huggable’.
The teddy is fully robotic — it can talk, play and walk with the kids at the hospital — with the help of a remote operator. The study is pretty diverse in nature as the kids at the hospital are segmented, one-third of the total children play with the robotic teddy while the another third is only given access to an image of the robotic teddy on tablet and the remaining third is provided a regular non-robotic teddy.
All the three groups of the children are then observed and recorded on a video, apart from that, they are made to wear a bracelet, known as Q Sensor, to measure the physiological changes in their health. The study is being analyzed by the hospital with the aid of some researchers from the Northeastern University.
Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, told New York Times, “We could someday see this as a standard of care, where every child who comes into the pediatric hospital might get something like this. It’s not only the health and emotional and recovery benefits, but also logistical and financial, improving efficiency to the overall health system.”
If all goes as planned then in the future we might see pediatrics employing such methods to have better view of a child’s physical and emotional health. Teddy Bears are not just stuffed toys anymore, they are being transformed into child health monitors.