The Huggable Project   Leave a comment

 

In the New York Times, I read and watched a near tear-jerker of a video from their Robotica series.  In this episode, the video tells the story of Beatrice Lipp, a young child who’s suffering from a chronic disease.  She’s had one too many visits to the pediatric hospital and is both frightened and stressed.  She hates going and misses her life at school and with her friends. To ease this situation, a special friend is brought in to rescue her from the tedium she faces.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology teamed up with Boston Children’s hospital to develop Huggable, a robotic bear that’s absolutely adorable.  She interacts with Beatrice and the effect she has is nothing short of amazing.  This poor kid transformed from sad to so cheerful interacting with Huggable.  Beatrice reaches out to touch the bear, smiles and laughs as Huggable seems to respond to her questions and conversation.  Nearby, a programmer keeps watch on the action of both the bear and child and acts as a cyber puppeteer, moving the arms, legs and head of Huggable, even controlling eye blinks.

It’s really a positive step forward in the world of robotics and a lovely video to watch.

The top video is a description of the project from MIT, and although academic, is nonetheless interesting to watch.  Please enjoy both.

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