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Robots to Help Children With Autism

Integrated circuits (Tambako/Flickr)Interbots Inc., a spin-off company associated with the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has joined with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh to provide robot-based therapy for children with autism. The program will use a robot to test the ability of children with autism with limited or no verbal skills.

Interbot’s Popchilla robot will be used in the first phase of the program with a trained therapist.  Company specialists have created an iPad application that will allow the therapist to direct sessions, which will eventually be transitioned to allow the child to control the robot through an iPad application to identify emotions. The iPad application is currently in production and the program is slated to begin this fall.

“Children with autism are sometimes more likely to communicate with a non-human entity,” says Cindy Waeltermann, director of the Autism Centers of Pittsburgh, “The idea is to bridge the gap between their world and ours.” Waeltermann adds, “By using Popchilla as an intermediary, we hope to increase the understanding of the child’s internal feelings, thus reducing behavioral frustrations.”

Photo: Tambako/Flickr

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