Huggable Robotic Bear Companion From MIT

Huggable, the robotic companion for therapeutic applications, is the result of an MIT project that seeks to take advantage of our love for animals. Research indcates that animal companionship benefits people; they can lower our stress, reduce heart rate and respiratory rate, elevate mood and facilitate greater socialization with other people.


(Huggable Robotic Bear Companion for Therapeutic Applications)

However, there are many situations where animals are not welcome, due to allergies, risk of disease or institutional requirements (in hospitals and nursing homes).

The MIT team has created a huggable robotic bear that can interact with patients and provide quantitative information to care givers.

The Huggable robotic therapeutic companion makes use of a variety of cutting-edge technologies:

  • The full-body sensate skin consists of three different types of sensors - electric field, temperature and force - that cover the entire surface of the robot. (The sensor-skin lies under a silicone skin and plush fur fabric for greater comfort.) This is may be an improvement over earlier efforts to give robots pressure-sensitive skin or electroluminescent thin film sensors.
  • An inertial measurement unit, cameras embedded in the eyes and microphones in the ears.
  • Voice coil actuators with position sensing give the Huggable silent, compliant and backlash-free movement in the neck, shoulders and face.
  • An embedded PC with wireless communication capabilities implements the robots behaviors and provides care givers with effective patient monitoring and efficient data collection.
Researchers are determined to meld these technologies into a coherent whole that serves patient needs:

"One important and novel capability we are developing for the Huggable is its ability to participate in active relational and affective touch-based interactions with a person. Social-relational touch interactions play a particularly important role for companion animals in their ability to provide health benefits to people. Touch can convey a wide variety of communicative intents --- an animal can be tickled, petted, scratched, patted, rubbed, hugged, held in ones arms or lap just to name a few. To be effective, therapeudic robotic companions must also be able to understand and appropriately respond to how a person touches it ."

Science fiction fans have been looking forward to these developments for generations. In his 1969 story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long (the basis for Steven Spielberg's A.I.), writer Brian Aldiss imagines Teddy, a perfect robotic companion for a young boy. And a mother.

"Stand there, Teddy. I want to talk to you." She set him down on a tabletop, and he stood as she requested, arms set forward and open in the eternal gesture of embrace.

"Teddy, did David tell you to tell me he had gone into the garden?"

The circuits of the bear's brain were too simple for artifice. "Yes, Mummy."
(Read more about Brian Aldiss' Teddy bear robot


(Teddy the robotic companion from A.I.)

An earlier (and somewhat more sinister) vision of robotic teddy bears is provided in Always Do What Teddy Says, a 1965 short story by Harry Harrison. Also, physicians have been using robot stand-ins for rounding; read InTouch Companion: Medical Rounding Robot. Read more about MIT's Huggable Robotic Companion.

Update 02-Aug-06: Excellent reference from a reader - see Purza the Pukha from Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/2/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 11 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Ford Uses Obedient Robot Dogs To Update Facilities Maps
'If he sent out two or three of the small tele-operated devices... [he] could see machinery and construction details in real time from both above and below.' - Niven and Pournelle, 1981.

EllipticaRunner Robot Is Fast, Amazing, Slightly Worrisome
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi...' - William Gibson, 1986.

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.' - Harry Harrison, 1956

Rippling Fin Robot Drone Swims And Walks
'... the curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking and disturbing to the human beholder...' - HG Wells, 1898.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Habitability Of Galactic Bulge - Good News For Foundation Fans
'Toran resigned himself to days of careful plotting between Jumps.'

Lava Tubes On Mars And Moon May Be Huge
'Most of the stuff written about Bats' Cave gives a wrong impression.'

Olfactory User Interfaces - Judith Amores Dissertation
Awakened with a whiff of lemon.

Personalized Masks Appear
'The tiger stripes on Jim's mask... made the young people easy to identify.'

Foiling Facial Recognition, Fighting Coaster Viruses, Harlan Ellison-Style
I have no mouth and I must scream.

Ford Uses Obedient Robot Dogs To Update Facilities Maps
'If he sent out two or three of the small tele-operated devices... [he] could see machinery and construction details in real time from both above and below.'

AirTouch Panels Means No More Dirty Touchscreens!
Useful interfaces now appear in thin air.

EllipticaRunner Robot Is Fast, Amazing, Slightly Worrisome
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi...'

SPECTER Electroshock Round Fireable From Shotgun
'...the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little cases of glass.'

100 Terabyte Exadrive SSD Also Has Biggest Price
'A man could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres in a Schrön loop.'

Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.'

Feel Virtual Reality In Mid-Air!
'...a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet.'

Electric Lasso Gives Police Options
'The blast of silver threads enveloped her...'

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.