Engineers have managed to create a therapeutic robot aimed at older people that is capable of provoking different emotions thanks to its particular faceless design. The robot baby, called Hiro-Chan, manufactured by a Japanese robotics company Vstone, makes sad sounds when you leave them alone and happy sounds when you lift and hug them. The company says its robot produces a healing effect in the elderly in nursing homes.
This battery-powered robot is so simple since it is a rag doll without a face, without expressions, where there is an accelerometer inside that can detect when someone is holding the doll. The doll will then emit a series of sounds as it notices that it is on a surface (sad) or when it is in the hands of a person (happy).
The problem is that it is not so easy for robots to express emotions on their faces: if the emotion is underdeveloped, the user does not recognize it. Also, if the robot had a face that was always smiling, the user could not get the same sense of satisfaction to calm and cuddle it. The developers of Vstone decided to solve this problem in a very radical way: their robotic baby Hiro-chan has no face. Instead, express emotions only with sounds.
The device produces more than one hundred different real sounds. The robot cries when left alone, and will calm down when it is lifted into arms. It changes seamlessly from the most pleasant mood “laughing” to the worst mood “crying.”
By the way, “Hiro-chan” can be used by people of all ages regardless of age, but these are specially designed considering using it for seniors who seek healing, care houses, and nursing homes. This therapeutic robot has a cost of 5,500 JPY (about US $50), and at the moment, it seems that it is triumphing over Japanese lands, reports IEEE Spectrum.