Meet Huggable, your friend at hospital
They are gloomy and boring. Hospitals are the last place we want to be, but there are many kids who have to visit a hospital sometimes, and for those not-so-fun days there’s Huggable.
Using a robotic teddy bear, scientists have shown that social robots can boost the mood among hospitalised children and help them cope with stressful treatments.
This cuddly friend is there when these kids feel isolated or miss their school friends. Huggable is tablet-based plush teddy bear which is still in its formative stage but looking at the results of how the children in a Boston hospital reacted, it can be used in several treatment centres in the future.
These social robots create a more consistent presence throughout the day. They also help kids who don’t always want to talk to people, and respond better to having a robotic stuffed animal with them.
The robotic teddy bear is operated by a specialist in the hall outside a child’s hospital room. The specialist controls the robot’s facial expressions and body actions, directs its gaze, talks through a speaker that shifts the voice to a higher pitch to sound more childlike, and monitors the patient via camera.
The first patented stuffed toy was a rabbit from Beatrix Potter’s stories, Peter Rabbit.