Monday January 21, 2019
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Children Get A New Reading Companion in This New Robot

"This robot supports an engaging reading activity, but it's not a social companion to the extent that you could have an open conversation with it."

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New interactive robot can be your kid's reading buddy. Flickr

A new interactive robot, programmed to be an interested listener, may serve as a reading companion for your kid, a new study suggests.

The new robot named “Minnie” can react, cajole and appear thoughtful, said the researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, who have developed the robot.

For the study, the research team designed a two-week reading programme including 25 books representing a range of reading skills and story complexities.

According to the team, the children grew more excited about books and more attached to the robot over two weeks of reading together.

“After one interaction, the kids were generally telling us that, sure, it was nice to have someone to read with as a reading companion,” said co-author Joseph Michaelis from the varsity.

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai (VOA)

“But by the end of two weeks, they were talking about how the robot was funny and silly and afraid, and how they’d come home looking forward to seeing it again,” he added.

The number of children who told the robot has a personality or emotions increased more than four-fold over the two weeks they spent with the robot, the researchers said.

The number reporting they were motivated to read also spiked — and surpassed a control group following a paper-based version of the reading programme. And kids who read with the robot said they felt like they understood and remembered more about the shared books, they added.

Also Read: AI Robots to Help the Students of Japan in Enhancing English Speaking Skills

Social learning — pairing up with a peer to complete math problems or read a chapter in a textbook — is a powerful way to help students develop skills and interests, suggests the findings published in the journal Science Robotics.

“This robot supports an engaging reading activity, but it’s not a social companion to the extent that you could have an open conversation with it. If you had a much more capable robot, that picture might change,” co-author Bilge Mutlu, Professor at the varsity noted.(IANS)

Next Story

New Technology That Can Clean Water Twice As of Now

more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas.

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Novel technology cleans water using bacteria

Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that can clean water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes, an advance that brings hope for countries like India where clean drinking water is a big issue.

According to a team from the Washington University in St. Louis, more than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The team led by Srikanth Singamaneni, Professor at the varsity, developed an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environment-friendly.

The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling, or build up of bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms that reduce the flow of water.

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The membrane technology purifies water while preventing biofouling. VOA

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they used bacteria to build such filtering membranes.

The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria is a sugary substance that forms cellulose nanofibres when in water.

The team then incorporated graphene oxide (GO) flakes into the bacterial nanocellulose while it was growing, essentially trapping GO in the membrane to make it stable and durable.

They exposed the membrane to E. coli bacteria, then shone light on the membrane’s surface.

After being irradiated with light for just three minutes, the E. coli bacteria died. The team determined that the membrane quickly heated to above the 70 degrees Celsius required to deteriorate the cell walls of E. coli bacteria.

While the bacteria are killed, the researchers had a pristine membrane with a high quality of nanocellulose fibres that was able to filter water twice as fast as commercially available ultrafiltration membranes under a high operating pressure.

When they did the same experiment on a membrane made from bacterial nanocellulose without the reduced GO, the E. coli bacteria stayed alive.

The new technology is capable of identifying and quantifying different kinds of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, as a threat to shut down water systems when it suddenly proliferates. Pixabay

While the researchers acknowledge that implementing this process in conventional reverse osmosis systems is taxing, they propose a spiral-wound module system, similar to a roll of towels.
Also Read: India Gets Assistance of Rs 3,420 Crore From Japan
It could be equipped with LEDs or a type of nanogenerator that harnesses mechanical energy from the fluid flow to produce light and heat, which would reduce the overall cost.

If the technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit many developing countries where clean water is scarce, the researchers noted. (IANS)