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Tech & Science Aflac's Robotic Duck Comforts Kids with Cancer

11:16  12 january  2018
11:16  12 january  2018 Source:   mentalfloss.com

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So it was a breath of fresh air when insurance company Aflac and a company called Sproutel showed up with a robot duck designed to comfort children with cancer . Kids can give the duck a sponge bath or administer injections. It then responds, with help from the built-in Bluetooth connection.

Aflac . Every year, close to 16,000 children in the U. S . are diagnosed with cancer . That news can be the beginning of a long and draining battle that forces kids and their When a child cuddles the fuzzy robotic duck , it can cuddle back. It reacts to being cradled and stroked by quacking or moving its head.

a dog looking at the camera: Aflac's Robotic Duck Comforts Kids with Cancer © Aflac Aflac's Robotic Duck Comforts Kids with Cancer Every year, close to 16,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer. That news can be the beginning of a long and draining battle that forces kids and their parents to spend large amounts of time with medical providers, enduring long and sometimes painful treatments. As The Verge reports, a bit of emotional support during that process might soon come from an unlikely source: the Alfac duck.

The supplemental insurance company announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that it has partnered with the medical robotics company Sproutel to design and manufacture My Special Aflac Duck, a responsive and emotive sim-bird intended exclusively for children undergoing cancer treatment.

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My Special Aflac Duck — which Sproutel developed as part of Aflac ’ s ongoing Aflac Childhood Cancer campaign — is a robotic companion that pairs with “ Kids are really comforted by practicing their medical procedures through play therapy,” explains Horowitz, adding, “The focus for us is on

Simply adorable. This cute guy costs 0 (around £150, AU5), but Aflac is donating one at no cost to any children newly diagnosed with cancer . of 12. Now Reading. A closer look at how a robot duck comforts kids with cancer .

When a child cuddles the fuzzy robotic duck, it can cuddle back. It reacts to being cradled and stroked by quacking or moving its head. Kids can also touch special RFID chips emblazoned with emoji on the duck's chest to tell it how they’re feeling, and the device will mimic those emotions.

But the duck isn’t solely for cuddling. In “IV Mode,” which can be switched on while a child is undergoing IV therapy, the duck can help the user relax by guiding them through breathing exercises. Accessories included with the toy also allow children to "draw blood" from the duck as well as administer medication, a kind of role-playing that may help patients feel more comfortable with their own treatments.

Aflac approached Sproutel with the idea after seeing Sproutel’s Jerry the Bear, a social companion robot intended to support kids with diabetes. Other robotic companions—like the Japanese-made seal Paro and Hasbro's Joy for All companion pets for seniors—have hinted at a new market for robotics that prioritize comfort over entertainment or play.

My Special Aflac Duck isn’t a commercial product and won’t be available for retail sale. Aflac intends to offer it as a gift directly to patients, with the first rollout expected at its own cancer treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia. Mass distribution is planned for later this year.

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