Robot helps autistic children develop social skills

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tall-p
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03 Dec 2013, 12:09 am

Meet Russell. His lack of human emotions makes him an ideal conversation partner for non-communicative kids

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n a room at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, Russell tries to engage Madeline, a 3-year-old autistic girl. “Look at what I’m doing,” Russell says, waving his arms in the air as Madeline looks on.

But Russell isn’t a human being, he’s a humanoid robot created by scientists at Vanderbilt with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Cameras and a Microsoft Kinect sensor track and record a child’s movements and send the information wirelessly to Russell, who then gauges how engaged the child is and provides feedback accordingly. In doing so, he helps autistic children with something they struggle with: the ability to imitate others, a skill essential to learning.

“Autistic children understand the physical world much better than the social world,” explains Nilanjan Sarkar, the mechanical and computer engineer who works on the project. Since Russell isn’t as complex as a real human being, he doesn’t over-stimulate an autistic child.

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/02/robot_h ... _newscred/


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btbnnyr
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03 Dec 2013, 12:15 am

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tall-p
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03 Dec 2013, 12:25 am

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btbnnyr
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03 Dec 2013, 12:44 am

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pete1061
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03 Dec 2013, 12:44 am

How could a robot teach social skills? It's a friggin robot, as in, not human.
Machines can't be social.


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Ganondox
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03 Dec 2013, 5:53 am

So, proof that autistic children actually are in fact more empathetic, allowing them to empathize with a robot without being overwhelmed?


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Schneekugel
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03 Dec 2013, 5:56 am

pete1061 wrote:
How could a robot teach social skills? It's a friggin robot, as in, not human.
Machines can't be social.


They are not social, but you can program them to act social.



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03 Dec 2013, 6:08 am

Actually, I bet they'd be GREAT conversational partners for young autistic children.

I think I'd have preferred a human being (at least, a familiar one). But I can see a robot conversational partner or playmate being a less threatening way to learn, say, conversational give and take...

...and, because it doesn't come with actual human emotions and actual human social behavior, it would probably be LESS likely to "misunderstand" something, or be malicious because it got hurt feelings, or...

Could it teach the finer points of social interaction?? Say, teach cocktail party conversation to a college student, or teach banter to an Aspie teen, or help a middle schooler deal with a concept like "frenemies??"

No. I don't think it could teach anything that a reasonably intelligent NT would struggle with. Because, in the end, no matter how well-programmed it is, it still IS NOT human (nor Rachel Rosen, either-- no matter how deep into the Uncanny Valley we've gotten, we haven't come out the other side yet).

But it could make learning some basic skills less threatening for an autistic child.


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03 Dec 2013, 7:06 am

I sadly dont remember the exact experiment, but I know of a test of virtual intelligence, where random people were tested in having a conversation with an unseen partner. So they were told to exchange about 20 conversation files (back and return) and then asked to decide if they were talking to a real human or an virtual intelligence.

As far as I know, the virtual intelligence, actually did pretty well, so there was a certain amount of people, who thought to be talking to a human.



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03 Dec 2013, 8:48 am

I managed to find a video here: http://www.redorbit.com/news/video/scie ... -11182013/

The article has a picture of a different robot. :huh:



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03 Dec 2013, 2:24 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm pleased to see such thread about NAO here.
I'm heading up the Aldebaran Robotics initiative on Special education. First, I'd like to thank you for your interests in our ASK NAO project.

I thought you might be interested by learning more about ASK NAO by visiting our website. As I just registered on wrongplanet, I cannot post any address so please google ASK NAO. The first website should be ours.
You can find there a bunch of videos in our media section for those who want to learn more about NAO.
I'd love to get your expert feedback about our solution.

I hope you will like it. :D
I remain available for any questions !

Olivier



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03 Dec 2013, 2:33 pm

Shymere wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm pleased to see such thread about NAO here.
I'm heading up the Aldebaran Robotics initiative on Special education. First, I'd like to thank you for your interests in our ASK NAO project.

I thought you might be interested by learning more about ASK NAO by visiting our website. As I just registered on wrongplanet, I cannot post any address so please google ASK NAO. The first website should be ours.
You can find there a bunch of videos in our media section for those who want to learn more about NAO.
I'd love to get your expert feedback about our solution.

I hope you will like it. :D
I remain available for any questions !

Olivier


Qoool, will definitely check it out.

The thing that I like about your robot is that it is qute and visually pleasing, and I would have enjoyed playing with it as a child and also now.


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tall-p
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03 Dec 2013, 2:34 pm

Shymere wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm pleased to see such thread about NAO here.
I'm heading up the Aldebaran Robotics initiative on Special education. First, I'd like to thank you for your interests in our ASK NAO project.

I thought you might be interested by learning more about ASK NAO by visiting our website. As I just registered on wrongplanet, I cannot post any address so please google ASK NAO. The first website should be ours.
You can find there a bunch of videos in our media section for those who want to learn more about NAO.
I'd love to get your expert feedback about our solution.

I hope you will like it. :D
I remain available for any questions !

Olivier

This looks very interesting Oliver.

http://asknao.aldebaran-robotics.com/en ... l/solution


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03 Dec 2013, 2:40 pm

Schneekugel wrote:
pete1061 wrote:
How could a robot teach social skills? It's a friggin robot, as in, not human.
Machines can't be social.


They are not social, but you can program them to act social.


Yeah, like autistic people.

(People with autism are closer to robots than they are to animals, like humans, monkeys, dogs, and whatnot are.)



Shymere
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03 Dec 2013, 4:15 pm

@ btbnnyr
thank you very much ! We always received very good feedbacks regarding the design of NAO. For the story, 6 years ago, Aldebaran Robotics was a very small company without that much budget. A design teacher was looking for an original project to give to his students, and by chance, he met our CEO few days after who told him about his secret project. The first design is the result the work of these students. Aldebaran Robotics made few adjustments but kept the original outline. I think they found the right balance between robotics and human shapes. Not scary, not cold... a very nice friendly companion :) And I think the smooth movements help a lot !

@ tall-p
Thank you for posting the link ! I recommend you to give a look at our video ASK NAO : Be part of the project, available on youtube and on our website. We are very proud of it as it represents exactly what we are working for.

@ Dillogic
For me humans, even neurotypical, are programmed animal :) Programmed to smile when we are happy, to say hello in the right situation, to fall on our feet after a jump... we are the result of our past life, which is made of experiences and learning (= programming )

@ all
To us, NAO will never replace humans and teachers, but he's not only a robot. That's teaching tool for teachers and kind of a friends for the kids, with his own particularities.



pete1061
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03 Dec 2013, 4:16 pm

Schneekugel wrote:
pete1061 wrote:
How could a robot teach social skills? It's a friggin robot, as in, not human.
Machines can't be social.


They are not social, but you can program them to act social.


Social behavior can't be programmed, it's alive and fluid.


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