Teddy bears are a beary important aspect of childhood as the majority of us owned them, loved them and cuddled them at night, some of us still do!
From Paddington, Winnie The Pooh and Rupert Bear to the more modern Me 2 You and strawberry scented Lots-O’-Huggin bear featured in Toy Story 3, each generation brings new furry friends forward.
However, although they look cute and cuddly, teddy bears can actually have a greater impact on children that are feeling unwell or injured, which will be tested by one particular bear named Huggable who is currently being used at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Huggable, a mixture of bear and robot, is a special invention which was designed by the Personal Robots Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, and it was almost a decade ago when the first prototype was introduced to the children in Avoch, near Inverness.
Since then, Huggable has been redesigned in alliance with Chinese manufacturing company Jetta, and integrated with an android smart phone which will optimise it’s computing power as well as making it able to use the phone’s microphone, speaker and camera to enhance sensing.
It has been fitted with both pressure and touch sensors which allow the bear to perform more vivid gestures which makes it a lot more advanced in comparison to the bear’s original prototype that was created eight years ago.
As well as this, 3D printing has been used as a method of aesthetic design in order to give Huggable a more cartoon-like appearance. It also has animated glowing eyes, similar to that of the glowing tummy of the Glow-A-Lot Care Bear toys, however this is down to the smart phone technology that is used within the bear.
MIT have been using Huggable to assist the medical staff that are responsible for the children at Boston Children’s Hospital to interpret whether the child is stressed or experiencing a certain amount of pain, as well as studying how the interactions vary with the ‘bearbot’ in comparison to the usage of other instruments, such as interactive tablets and soft toys that are frequently used in a hospital environment.
We’re also estimating that Huggable will be a huge hit with the children as a combination of bear and robot is a pretty exciting concept and maybe in the future, Huggable will be a bear necessity for every hospital.