Designing a Socially Assistive Robot for Pediatric Care

Jeong, Sooyeon, et al. "Designing a socially assistive robot for pediatric care." Proceedings of the 14th international conference on interaction design and children. ACM, 2015.


We present the design of the Huggable robot that can playfully interact with children and provide socio-emotional support for them in pediatric care context. Our design takes into consideration that many young patients are nervous, intimidated, and are socio-emotionally vulnerable at hospitals. The Huggable robot has a childish and furry look be perceived friendly and can perform swift and smooth motions. It uses a smart phone device for its computational power and internal sensors. The robot's haptic sensors perceive physical touch and can use the information in meaningful ways. The modular arm component allows easy sensor replacement and increases the usability of the Huggable robot for various pediatric care services. From a preliminary pilot user study with two healthy and two ill children, all participants enjoyed playing with the robot but the two children with medical conditions showed caring and empathetic behaviors than the two health children. We learned various types of physical touch occurred during the child-robot interaction, and will continue to develop more intelligent haptic sensory system for the Huggable robot to better assist and support child patients' socio-emotional needs.

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