CEATEC JAPAN 2010 Oct.5th (Tue.) to Oct.9 (Sat.), 2010 Makuhari Messe, Tokyo

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CEATEC News

Vol.008

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.
Therapeutic effects through dialogue - the new social robot teddy bear exhibit.

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a prototype social robot teddy bear with a unique "personality" and conversational capability, which was displayed at CEATEC Japan 2010. These social robot teddy bears are capable of expression through gestures and body language, and can also make eye contact and engage in verbal dialogue. With their charming movements and gentle vocalizations, these "teddy bears" can be used for robot therapy in geriatric medicine for patients suffering from dementia.

Expressing emotions with speech, body language and gestures.

At first glance, the Fujitsu Laboratories social robot teddy bears look just like regular teddy bears but beneath their appearance are a high-tech sensor and ICT technology that enable gentle and therapeutic speech vocalization. The social robot teddy bears have functions that enable them to interact with users and their behavior can be controlled from a PC via a USB port. There is an array of sensors that enable the robots to replicate facial expressions, body language and gestures to match external stimuli. The robots have miniature cameras built into their noses that automatically recognize humans and they respond by facing the person. A built-in voice synthesizer is also incorporated to reproduce the voice of a 3- to 5-year old boy, which is projected from a built-in speaker to provide vocalization in conjunction with the robot's behavior. These robots are capable of up to 300 movement patterns including raising arms in delight, looking downwards in sadness, and kicking their feet in a fit of bad temper, while responding to these moods by vocalizing their "emotions". Many different kinds of movement can be recorded in PCs connected to the robots, and this means they could be used to act as exercise or game instructors in hospitals or other facilities.

Robot therapy activities in medical treatment and geriatric scenarios.

The most important advantage of this technology is that these social robot teddy bears are not merely virtual avatars projected onto a screen but actual real-world objects that can be touched, thus offering more potential for friendly interaction. Fujitsu aims to make it easier to become familiar with personified terminals like the social robot teddy bears that can be more easily interacted with in daily life. Animal therapy is used today to alleviate psychological problems in patients through interaction with pets, etc. and so it seems that there is much potential for robot therapy as well. Robot therapy offers advantages such as not having any of the hygiene-related problems that can accompany animals and of course, these robots do not bite. Fujitsu Laboratories is also performing interactive experiments between social robot teddy bears and patients suffering from dementia with the cooperation and guidance of doctors. Results of the physiological effects on test subjects showed invigorated autonomic nerve activity and increases in autonomic nerve activity (higher ability to resist stress) after interaction with the robots, as well as suppressed ratios of sympathetic nerve activity (more relaxed). Other results showed people who normally do not talk very much, communicating quite congenially with the robots and even humming tunes with them. Fujitsu Laboratories is planning to put robot therapy to practical use after more of these types of experimental trials.

Booth number: 4B51

 

Reference

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