A startup is in a bid to help kids fight disease and anxiety using companion robots. Its innovative products like a diabetic bear and the duck with a chemo port do just that.
Once there took place a competition for students that challenged the creativity of every participating team. The team under Horowitz designed a bear for kids suffering from type 1 diabetes and he won the prize for creativity. The same year, he earned the name “Dell social innovation fellow” In the year 2012; he co-founded a company named Sproutel. It focuses on researching and designing products to improve health.
Within a year, Jerry, the bear with diabetes entered the market. Later, he developed a duck for kids with cancer. A purring creature for anxiety followed suit. The company has also developed an immersive video chat device for seniors experiencing isolation or loneliness. The venture also plans to launch a toy for kids suffering from sickle cell disease.
Social Robots To Help Kids Fight Disease And Anxiety
The company’s goal is to create technology with empathy to help kids with serious ailments to lead a happier life; says its leader. He wants his company to become a mighty agent of change.
Social robots, however, are not new. Children used to make friends with dinosaurs, dogs and smart humanoid toys. In reality, these devices can do very little. They can’t cure ailments like cancer. Experts, however, contradict this. They observe that these toys are increasing in popularity in pediatric healthcare.
Sproutel, the nine-member startup is now focusing on child care and positive health outputs for them.
Jerry, the bear, for instance, comes equipped with an app-based insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitoring sensor. It teaches children to rotate injection points in their body. It also assists in their efforts to control carbs to regulate their blood sugar.
When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, he needs injections. That is a reason for anxiety for almost all children. The stuffed animal like Jerry the bear acts as a distracting tool. When the child gets an injection, the bear to receives one. It too gets its blood sugar checked. Kids with diabetes often need their fingers pricked four times a day to inject insulin. Needle phobia comes in the way of treatment. There are lots of parents who rely heavily on these animals to help their children to receive their insulin shots.
Horowitz, aged 30, is the son of a modern dancer and landscape painter. He grew up disassembling computer printers and building sculptures. He too suffered from the deficiency of growth hormone. As a result, he was 4Ft and 8” tall when entering high school. For five years, he used to take a shot. Life at that time was quite tough; he never talked about it. It was only when someone asked him to explain his passion.
At present, Horowitz is 5 feet and 11 inches tall. He speaks fast and is jubilant when asked about his work. When he smiles, his eyes turn into crescents. He now knows that it is his childhood experiences that helped him understand the struggles young patients face.
Every single toy the company launches is the fruit of ongoing research and improvement. The immensely popular duck with a chemo port moves around delightfully in response to touch sound and light. It greets other ducks with a quack when they happen to come across. It also features a chemotherapy port. This lets the kid to play the role of a caregiver and learn about his own treatment.
The child can use the radio-frequency identifier-enabled emoji cards on the duck’s chest to express himself. The “sad” emoji makes it whimper. It gets quiet when the child pets the duck. He can even bathe it using an app.