When Toys become Tools – Robotic Teddy Bears come to the Bedside in Hospitals

Mike Gillam, 27 April 2015

In the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence, Stanley Kubrick outlined a future with Super Toys – children’s toys enhanced with digital cognition.

Given the exponential trends in miniaturization, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and micro-sensors, it is easy to imagine a future where Super Toys are tools for the home.

A “Super Toy” in the home equipped with the proper array of sensors and actuators could be certain to never miss capturing a baby’s first words, never miss recording a child’s first steps. It would never let a child drink anything from beneath a kitchen sink, wander near an unsecured pool, or succumb silently to SIDS.

Presciently, Teddy in Kubrick’s movie retorts to the label Super Toy by saying, “I am not a Toy!”

Recently, MIT unveiled how true that truly could be with Huggable – a bedside teddy bear for use in hospitals.

The video has elements that are devastatingly touching – and show the comforting and encouraging role that characters like these could play for children.

 

Mike Gillam, MD, FACEP 2015

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