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Human-like robot could help people living with dementia

Scientists in Singapore created a robot that could assist patients with cognitive disorder

With her brown hair, soft skin and expressive face, Nadine is a new brand of human-likerobotthat couldoneday, scientists hope, be used as a personal assistant orcareprovider for the elderly.

The 5-foot6-inchtall robot was created in the likeness of its maker, Nadia Thalmann, a visiting professor and director of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's Institute of Media Innovation who has spent three decades researching into virtual humans.

Nadine's software allows therobotto express a range of emotions and recall a previous conversation. Nadine is not commercially available, but Thalmann predictedrobots couldonedaybe used as companions for people living withdementia.

"If you leave these people alonethey will be going down very quickly. So these people need to always be in interaction," Thalmann said, adding Nadine could provide conversation, tell a story or play a simple game.

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Thalmann and her team are also working on emotiverobots that can play with children. The project is still in the early development stage and no prototype is available yet.

The childrobotwould be able to respond to questions, display emotions and recognize people. Aside from being a social companion, the childrobotcould supervise unattended children and inform a parent or nanny if something went wrong, Thalmann said.

There are plans to program the childrobotto speak different languages so that it can serve as an educational tool for children, she said.

"A child has toys but they are usually passive. Thisrobotwill be an active toy which interacts with the child," said Thalmann. "It will be able to remember what the child likes."

 

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