A co-worker sent me a link for a interesting new tool being used in Boston Children’s Hospital: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/technology/huggable-robot-therapeutic-value-hospitals.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1
It is like a combination of the Teddy Ruxpin dolls and Baymax from Big Hero 6, and I almost don’t know where to start with it, besides to say that I think therapy dogs are a much cheaper option for distracting and comforting children.
But, of course, because of this course, my mind gradually turned towards the various principles of design as covered in the text.
First off I thought of the hunter-nurturer fixation. The robot is a nice plushy teddy bear in gentle colours, and the children are encouraged to interact and play with the teddy I would imagine quite gently, given how costly a bear it is. Which, per the principle, is more for girls than boys, but presumably the doctors would like Huggable to appeal to all patients. Perhaps they could have a second version of Huggable that is just the robot for the boys?
Then, watching the video, I thought of the uncanny valley. Because it is a teddy bear it shouldn’t be on the scale, but because it is an animatronic teddy bear it definitely fell on the scale for me, with its jerky movements and darting eyes.
It is certainly an interesting idea, and I’m all for anything that will make a child’s experience at a hospital that much easier…but still, as I said, therapy dogs (like Moxie) FTW!