Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toy Robot May Help Children With Autism

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- He's a Carolina blue color with big floppy rabbit ears, and when the furry creature is happy, those ears go straight up. When he's mad, his green eyes turn a devilish red. Equipped with a movable mouth and paws, he also can express such emotions as sad, confused, surprised and embarrassed.
He can even speak -- either via prerecorded messages and songs or through the voice of a trained therapist using a remote microphone run through the robot's "voice box." And if all goes according to plan, the children with autism who will play with him will speak back, even if it's only by pushing the proper button on an iPad app to identify what the robot is feeling.
Meet Popchilla, the working name for a toy robot that autism experts and his creators hope will enable the children with autism to recognize emotions -- in the robot and themselves.

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