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

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Scam robocalls to hospitals could lead to a major health hazard

Robocalls can be an annoying waste of your time, but that can be a matter of life or death to a hospital. Scam robocalls are bombarding U.S. hospitals, with some centers losing hours of productivity as a result.
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 TV series currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

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.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods struggles to keep up with Impossible Burger demand

Red Robin and White Castle have reported Impossible Burger shortages, as it appears that Impossible Foods is struggling to keep up with demand. The company will be selling its meat-like patties in retail outlets within the year.
Emerging Tech

Pass the salt please: Table salt found on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Astronomers have spotted something unexpectedly familiar on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa -- sodium chloride, better known as table salt. This suggests the under-ice oceans on Europa are salty and similar to our oceans on Earth.
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures explosive galaxy, the site of three recent supernovae

Hubble's latest image is of the spiral galaxy NGC 4051 which is notable for having played host to a large number of supernovae: the first seen in 1983 (SN 1983I), the second in 2003 (SN 2003ie), and the most recent in 2010 (SN 2010br).
Emerging Tech

The grainy texture of Saturn’s rings reveals clues to their origins

New analysis of data from Cassini shows that Saturn's rings are not smooth, but rather are grainy in texture. Scientists believe that tiny moons within the rings cause materials to cluster and form clumps and straw-like patterns.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope gets upgrade to aid its hunt for habitable exoplanets

The Very Large Telescope is growing even bigger. The latest addition to the telescope's suite of instruments is a tool called NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region) which will hunt for exoplanets in the nearby Alpha Centauri star…
Emerging Tech

Your smartphone could be the key to predicting natural disasters

A challenge for atmospheric scientists is gathering enough data to understand the complex, planet-wide weather system. Now a scientist has come up with a clever idea to gather more data using smartphones and Internet of Things devices.
Emerging Tech

Tormented robot pulls a gun on its creators in latest Boston Dynamics spoof

Boston Dynamics' remarkable robots often receive a good few shoves in its videos, and the eager mistreatment recently inspired a team of L.A.-based video artists to give its rather amusing take on the matter.
Smart Home

A new survey by Adobe shows an evolving market for voice applications

A new consumer survey conducted by Adobe Analytics has uncovered a growing desire for more diversity in voice-controlled applications and devices as well as growing engagement with voice ads.
Emerging Tech

Live long and prosper? Experimental compound could slow down the aging process

Want to extend your natural lifespan beyond its current limits? A metabolite of biomolecules — found in pomegranates of all places — could help slow the aging process. Here's how.