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 ")

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but shows real promise.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.' - Philip K. Dick

 

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

Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'

Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...'

Exploring Oceans Across The Solar System
'Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes.'

SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'

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.