Social Robots WILL BENEFIT Hospitalized Children

Many hospitals sponsor interventions in pediatric systems, where child-life specialists will provide medical interventions to hospitalized children for developmental and coping support. This calls for play, preparation, education, and behavioral distraction for both routine health care, as well as before, during, and after difficult procedures. Traditional interventions include healing medical play and normalizing the surroundings through activities such as crafts and arts, games, and festivities. For the scholarly study, released in the journal Pediatrics, analysts from the MIT Media Lab, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Northeastern University deployed a robotic teddy keep, “Huggable,” across several pediatric systems at Boston Children’s Hospital.

More than 50 hospitalized children were randomly put into three groups of interventions that included Huggable, a tablet-based virtual Huggable, or a normal plush teddy keep. Generally, Huggable improved various patient outcomes over those other two options. The study mainly demonstrated the feasibility of integrating Huggable into the interventions.

But results also indicated that children playing with Huggable experienced more positive feelings overall. They got out of bed and shifted around more also, and linked with the robot emotionally, requesting it personal questions and inviting it to come later to meet their own families back. Although it is a little study, it is the first to explore social robotics in a real-world inpatient pediatric setting with ill children, the researchers say. Other studies have been conducted in labs, have examined very few children, or were conducted in public settings with no patient recognition.

But Huggable was created only to assist healthcare specialists-not replace them, the analysts stress. Cynthia Breazeal, an associate teacher of media arts and sciences and founding director of the non-public Robots group. Deirdre Logan, a pediatric psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Joining Breazeal and Logan on the paper are: Sooyeon Jeong, a Ph.D.

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Personal Robots group; Brianna O’Connell, Duncan Smith-Freedman, and Peter Weinstock, most of Boston Children’s Hospital;, and Matthew Goodwin and James Heathers, both of Northeastern University. First prototyped in 2006, Huggable is a plush teddy keep with a screen depicting animated eye. While the eventual goal is to make the automatic robot completely autonomous, it happens to be controlled remotely by a specialist in the hall outside a child’s room.

Through custom software, a specialist can control the robot’s cosmetic expressions and body actions and immediate in its gaze. The specialists may also talk through a speaker-with their voice automatically shifted to an increased pitch to sound more childlike-and monitor the participants via camera give food to. The tablet-based avatar of the keep had identical gestures and was also remotely operated. During the interventions including Huggable-involving kids ages 3 to 10 years-a specialist would sing nursery rhymes to younger children through automatic robot and move the arms during the music.

Older kids would play the I Spy game, where they need to suppose an object in the available room referred to by the specialist through Huggable. Through self-reports and questionnaires, the experts documented how much the families and patients liked getting together with Huggable. Additional questionnaires assessed the patient’s positive moods, as well as anxiety and perceived pain levels. The experts also used surveillance cameras installed in the child’s room to fully capture and analyze conversation patterns, characterizing them as unfortunate or joyful, using software. A greater percentage of children and their parents reported that the children enjoyed playing with Huggable more than with the avatar or traditional teddy carry.