Robotic teddy bear, Huggable, talks and plays with sick children to make them feel better

huggable the robotic teddy bear for sick children is now in boston childrens hospital screen shot 2015 06 03 at 7 17 58 pm
Wired screenshot
In what is either a truly genius or entirely creepy move, a collaboration between the Boston Children’s Hospital and M.I.T. has combined the nostalgic comfort of the teddy bear with the technological advances of the 21st century to produce Huggable, the robotic teddy bear that talks to sick children. According to a report from the New York Times, the lovable plush toy — but make that machine — is meant to “alleviate anxiety, pain, and isolation for children in a hospital.” 90 children at the Boston Children’s Hospital are currently involved in a study to determine just how helpful Huggable really is.

Ultimately, Huggable’s goal is to make children happier. Doctors are increasingly recognizing the importance of a patient’s psychological well-being, especially when it comes to children. Dr. Peter Weinstock, the director of the Simulator Program at the hospital, told the Times, “What we do know is that children who are happier, who feel better, it can have a big effect on healing.”

Huggable, which is described as a “high-tech puppet,” essentially brings cartoons to life by interacting, talking, and playing with sick children with the help of a remote control. And as Gizmodo points out, as Huggable continues to develop, the hope is that the robotic teddy bear could adapt to changing situations and different emotional scenarios in order to make children feel better faster.

Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, who leads the personal robots group at M.I.T.’s Media Lab, told the Times, “We could someday see this as a standard of care, where every child who comes into the pediatric hospital might get something like this. It’s not only the health and emotional and recovery benefits, but also logistical and financial, improving efficiency to the overall health system.”

Already, the hospital has invested a cool half million dollars in research surrounding social robotics, which includes the Huggable program. If it works, teddy bears may never be the same again.

Emerging Tech

NASA is building an inflatable space robot named King Louie

NASA is funding an inflatable robot called King Louie which could travel to the stars in deflated form and then be blown up when and where required. Here is why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Notre Dame fire: How drones and a robot called Colossus helped limit the damage

The fire that devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday shocked many around the world. In a bid to prevent even worse damage to the structure, Paris firefighters opted to deploy drones and a robot called Colossus.
Emerging Tech

New gunfire-detection system alerts police of shooters in seconds, not minutes

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detector is a fast gunfire-detection system that could help avert potential tragedies in public places like schools, malls, or anywhere a mass shooting might occur.
Emerging Tech

NASA chooses a special spot for its next crewed moon landing

Following the U.S. government's announcement last month of a desire to see American astronauts set foot on the moon again in the next five years, NASA has revealed a location on the lunar surface where it would most like to land.
Emerging Tech

Adidas has created a running shoe that’s made to be remade

Adidas has unveiled the Futurecraft Loop running shoe that it claims is the first performance footwear to be 100% recyclable. The shoe is the latest green initiative by the sportswear company and will go on sale in 2021.
Emerging Tech

Yale scientists restore cellular activity in a pig’s brain hours after its death

In what some may view as a porcine version of Frankenstein, Yale University scientists have restored circulation and cellular activity in a pig’s brain four hours after its death. The study is likely to be used to study brain function
Emerging Tech

Russia’s robot news anchor gives human TV presenters hope

Human news anchors anxious about robots taking their jobs will be feeling reassured this week after the appearance on Russian TV of a news-reading android that clearly needs a bit of work.