After reviewing some of the negative feedback for KDDI’s/Flower Robotics’ recently unveiled life coach robot Polaris, I thought it might be a good time to look at Intuitive Automata started by Cory Kidd, a Ph.D. from MIT’s Media Lab, which is developing a robot called Autom™ that can help you reach your weight-loss goals. The original prototype developed at MIT has been given a much-needed make over and has considerably slimmed down itself. Users interact with the robot through its speech synthesis and a touch screen, which runs software to track a person’s caloric intake and exercise. The robot maintains eye contact with a person through its embedded vision with face recognition.
If you fail to see the practicality in robots like Polaris or Autom™, consider the pioneering work done by Cory Kidd during his time at MIT: besides being more enjoyable to interact with, participants in a study believed the prototype version of Autom™ to be more engaging, more informative, and more credible than an animated character. Additionally, users who were given the robot (as opposed to using a computer with the same software, or a pen and paper log) used the system twice as long – an important factor in keeping the weight off. Thanks to Autom’s physical embodiment, they also bonded with the robot in ways that they could not with an animated character, by dressing it up and naming it. This points to a developing relationship that will strengthen a person’s resolve to continue using the system.
Intuitive Automata is still in the process of readying Autom™ for mass production, and currently there is no word on the robot’s price point. Videos and media after the break.