A simple visit from a human-controlled robot encourages a positive outlook and improves hospitalized children’s medical interactions.
robin is a robot that moves, talks and plays with children while being remotely controlled by humans. The machine has been running through the corridors of UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital and the results are very positive.
In a statement, quoted by EurekAlertJustin Wagner, pediatric surgeon at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, explained that his team “demonstrated that a social robot can go far beyond video chatting” to make a hospital a less stressful environment.
“Our patients feel anxious and vulnerable in many ways, so it’s critical that we be as creative as possible to facilitate their experiences when they need our help,” added the expert.
Robin is about 1.2 meters tall and can move, talk and play with the children. According to the IFL Science, the “body” has a screen at the top – a kind of head – that shows different facial expressions.
During the study period (October 2020 to April 2021), the robot visited the children during one-hour sessions. The results were compared with those of using a tablet, used for video chatting, a method that has become very common in hospitals at a time when the pandemic has let up but has not stopped.
The study showed that it was “extremely likely” that 90% of patients asked Robin for a second visit, which suggests that the robot friend had an overwhelmingly positive response.
In addition, there was an increase in 29% on the positive effect (described as the tendency to view the world in a positive light) after Robin’s visit, and a 33% decrease in the negative effect.
The children’s mood improvements seemed to affect hospital workers and families, which means that Robin is a much better option, compared to current forms of remote visits.
The study was presented at the National Conference American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).