Wednesday November 20, 2019

Social Robots for Hospitalized Children

Social robots are the best gift Artificial Intelligence could ever give us

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It is made from computer parts and powered by two modified portable cell phone chargers. Flickr

Social robots are the best gift Artificial Intelligence could ever give us. These robots have been increasingly used in medical and educational contexts. Over the past 20 years, social robots have become an emerging field where there are many things still to work on. This field requires knowledge in mechanics, control, artificial intelligence, psychology, design, ethics, etc.

A study by MIT researchers investigated different scenarios in therapy or education where social robots could be a useful tool for children. The study demonstrated that social robots, when used pediatric units support sessions at hospitals, cause positive emotions in sick children. They can be used to help reduce a sick kid’s anxiety, pain, and other distress in a hospital setting.

To work on their study, the researchers deployed a robotic teddy bear, named Huggable, across different pediatric units at Boston Children’s Hospital. Huggable is a plush teddy bear which was developed in 2006 with a screen depicting animated eyes, whose facial expressions and body language can be controlled by a specialist. The specialists could also talk through a speaker with their voice automatically shifted to a higher pitch so that it sounds more childlike.

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For the research, the team divided over 50 hospitalized children into three groups. Wikimedia Commons

For the research, the team divided over 50 hospitalized children into three groups. The first group had Huggable, the second had a tablet-based virtual Huggable, and the third had a traditional plush teddy bear.

The results found that the percentage of children who enjoyed playing with Huggable was much more than that of the virtual or traditional teddy bear. The children were seen to get out of bed and move around more, and also emotionally connect with the robot, asking it personal questions and inviting it to come back later to meet their families. Such improved emotional, physical, and verbal outcomes are all the positive factors which could contribute to better and faster recovery in hospitalized children.

Although it was small research, it was the very first to explore social robotics in a real-world inpatient pediatric setting with ill children. The other studies that have been conducted initially were in labs with very few children or in a public setting without any patient identification.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that Huggable is designed only to assist health care specialists and not replace them. “It’s a companion,” says co-author Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor of media arts and sciences and founding director of the Personal Robots group. “Our group designs technologies with the mindset that they’re teammates. We don’t just look at the child-robot interaction. It’s about helping specialists and parents because we want technology to support everyone who has invested in the quality care of a child.”

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Social robots are the best gift Artificial Intelligence could ever give us. Pixabay

The study also generated valuable insights to develop a fully autonomous Huggable robot, which is the researchers’ ultimate goal. The researchers were able to determine which physical gestures are used most often, and which features specialists may want for future iterations. For instance, Huggable could introduce doctors before they enter a child’s room or learn about their interests and share that information with specialists. The researchers may also equip the robot with computer vision, so that it can detect certain objects in a room and talk about those with children to make them feel secure.

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In the future, an automated robot could be used to improve continuity of care. A child would take home the social robot after a hospital visit to further support engagement, adherence to care regimens, and monitoring well-being.

Next, the researchers are hoping to zero in on which specific patient populations may benefit the most from the Huggable interventions. Logan, a pediatric psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital said that “We want to find the sweet spot for the children who need this type of extra support.”

Next Story

Is Oracle Digital Assistant Smarter Than Amazon Alexa? Find Out Here!

Here's Why Oracle's digital assistant better than Amazon's Alexa

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Amazon Alexa may lag behind Oracel Digital Assistant. Pixabay

Alexa may be your perfect living room assistant, but when it comes to specific queries with particular vocabulary from enterprises, it lags behind in rich capabilities that Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA) has to offer, a top company executive has stressed.

Oracle Digital Assistant can become your intelligent front-end — your smart router that’s able to send all your specific questions to relevant bots, according to Suhas Uliyar, VP-Product Management, Oracle Digital Assistant and Integration Cloud.

“It knows how to handle conflicts, manage security and so on and so forth. It has got Artificial Intelligence (AI) and is AI-trained so we call the routing of your questions to be relevant, and call it a skill now. Instead of bot, it’s a skill,” Uliyar told IANS during an interaction.

According to him, there are a couple of differences compared to Alexa as it works on the same model.

“Alexa is very implicit, where you have to say — Alexa, ask this skill to do something. While Oracle Digital Assistant is both explicit and implicit and you don’t need to sort of say ‘go ask the HCM (Human Capital Management) bot,’ for instance. It’ll just figure out that the question is for HCM bot and will answer accordingly,” Uliyar elaborated.

The other thing is to use the word ‘assistant’ and, according to him, we are overloading the term ‘assistant’ because if you have an ‘assistant’, she or he is smart enough to understand who you are, what your preferences are, know how you work.

“Most of the chatbots respond to a simple question and answer. Next time, it will probably remember who you are. So, the whole context is memory, and also the process side of things,” the Oracle executive added.

Oracle Digital Assistant provides the platform and tools to easily build AI-powered assistants that connect to your backend applications.

The digital assistant uses AI for natural language processing and understanding, to automate engagements with conversational interfaces that respond instantly, improve user satisfaction, and increase business efficiencies.

Most of those voice-enabled application programming interfaces (APIs) are being trained using what’s called Open Common Domain Models, which means that it understands our normal speaking style and content.

“What if an enterprise has a specific vocabulary? For example, a very common thing in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is what’s EBITDA for a company. You try saying EBITDA to Alexa or any other such assistant in the market today, and you’ll most likely draw a blank,” Uliyar told IANS.

Oracle AI
Oracle digital assistant uses AI for natural language processing and understanding. Pixabay

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is a measure of a company’s operating performance.

According to him, to serve customers with delightful experiences every single time, there has to be a lot of innovation happening — whether it’s mobile, chatbots, Blockchain, AI or AR/VR.

“With all these new realities, what enterprises really need is a platform that can pull that ‘holistic experience’ altogether. That’s sort of the topmost challenge that enterprise customers want to solve,” he noted.

Oracle Digital Assistant is very sophisticated. It has got deep learning and is based on a technology called Sequence-to-Sequence vectoring and creates what we call as logical forms of the statement.

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“We call it a deep semantic parsing. It’s the underlying technology and is very different given the advancements of deep learning. We can do a much better job instead of understanding the linguistic constructs, versus in the past. This is quite a bit of advancement. We’re definitely very excited about pushing the boundaries,” said Uliyar. (IANS)