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How Intelligent Robots Could be of Help to Children with Autism and During Autism Therapy 

CBS news did an incredible story during the holidays about a boy with autism who was never expected to say more than a word or two. “Now, he’s singing Christmas songs as if he’s been doing it his whole life”. Here is the adorable video:

So how are these intelligent robots helping children with autism?

Rosalind Picard, Professor and Ognjen Rudovic, Postdoctoral research fellow, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote a very interesting article on their thoughts on this topic.

“Therapists juggle a lot of tasks at once. For example, when a therapist teaches a child with autism to read social cues, such as facial expressions and tone of voice, she must simultaneously track many possible signs of improvement. These may include the direction a child is looking, the tilt of his head, whether he is taking turns with others and how he is engaging with objects or people.”

Most therapists record their sessions and have to go back and review, which can take hours of their time. So what are these robots doing to help?

“On the outside, most therapy robots today are designed to appear or act friendly, resembling a pet or a human friend. On the inside, they have machinery that can watch and record movies from therapy sessions, including cameras, microphones and speakers. They also have mechanical engines to move their limbs and one or more computers that orchestrate their behaviors and help analyze data.”

“Our team at the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been studying technology-assisted autism therapy since 1999. Earlier this year, we published work in Science Robotics suggesting that robots can use video recordings of children diagnosed with autism to estimate their levels of engagement and whether they appear excited or calm, or show positive or negative emotions. In other words, the robots can determine some aspects of how the children are acting and feeling from behavioral cues.”

How incredible is that? What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think that robots of the future might also be able to help improve the social skills of children with autism?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

To read the full article from SpectrumNews.org, please visit the link here: https://www.spectrumnews.org/opinion/viewpoint/intelligent-robots-prove-boon-autism-therapies/?cn-reloaded=1