Zeno, developed by Hanson Robotics, is being used in collaborative research by the University of Texas Arlington and the Dallas Autism Treatment Center to explore new ways of treating children with autism. (Source: University of Texas Arlington)
I have to admit, watching Zeno is a little bit like watching trailers from those infamous Chuckie movies--there's something still a little creepy about watching the adult interact with a non-human, toylike robot. On the other hand, I could see future iterations of this being a real help for helping autistic kids over the hump of social interactions. So despite some small hesitations, I do think robot technology is a great resource for helping treat this problem.
I agree, Beth, this does have a degree of creepy to it. Yet, as a father of a teenage daughter with autism, I'll take any port in a storm. I've already seen how my daughter interacts well with computers, even as she is unable to create and sustain a simple friendship. My daughter would think Zeno is pretty cool. And I love the name of his skin: flubber.
Rob, you have far more experience and knowledge of how a child would react so I'm shelving any reservations based on your sound judgement. I've heard you speak in this forum many times about your daughter's love for computers and particularly the games and cell phone. Glad like something like Zeno has possibilities for making life easier for her and your entire family.
Honestly, Beth, I also have reservations about many, many devices, but in the area of autism, you try everything. When my daughter was young, we tried a series of drugs, which had no value at all. In many ways, a device, whether a laptop or some of the childhood learning gadgets, is much less of a risk.
This looks like a brilliant app for robotics. I don't know any people with autism, but I do known some on different points of the Asperger's scale. They're all highly talented, many in technical areas. One who used to be my movie buddy could have benefited from this robot. He would often ask me to define what emotions an actor was conveying, as he found it hard to read the subtleties in people's facial expressions. Interestingly, his favorite childhood fantasy was being a robot, and as an adult he could still do a very good imitation.
The field of robotics is truly being stretched, no pun intended, by using aiding children with autism. I know MIT has done a bunch of research on building robots that respond to human emotions. At MIT Professor Rosalind Picard is the pioneer in Autism Theory and Technology. She teaches a course on the subject where students explore "the converging challenges and goals of autism research and new technologies - including networked, wearable, and robotic - that have increasingly human-like social, emotional, and communication skills." For additional information, the course website is included below.
I recall that 60 Minutes did a piece on the iPad and its effect on autistic children. I don't know why technology seems to work so well for autistic kids, but if it works, I would assume that it would be far more desirable than most medications.
Elizabeth, there are lots of kids and grown up peoples living in and around our country with autism. Recently I had associating and start working with a NGO unit, which take cares about the children having autism. Through that organization we are trying to develop some special software with enriched graphics and GUI for e-learning purpose, which can help them for a better understanding and learning. Personally I know the difficulties and challenges in treating the autism and i hope the new innovation can bring a major change in treatment.
Charles, autism is effecting in brain. So their understanding and communication skills become weaker. So special education software and tools are required for them to get understand about things. From last several months am associating with an organization, which is doing charity work for kids with autism and other disabilities. We are planning for develop some special software and tools for e-learning of kids having autism.
My son is a teenager who is diagnosed as high functioning on the Asperger's scale. He has learned as he has grown older to respond appropriately to the emotions of others, and to control his own. I wish Zeno would have been available about 10 years ago, as this type of stimulus/therapy would have enabled him to "catch up" so much quicker, given his interest interest in computers and technology. A big pat on the back to everyone engaged in this sort of research--you are making a difference.