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Toys ‘R’ Us To Bring Autism Therapy Robot To Masses

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A fuzzy yellow robot initially used for autism therapy is going mainstream this fall, with Toys “R” Us marketing a consumer version that very well could be the next must-have Christmas item.

The robot known as My Keepon is just 10 inches tall and features little more than two big eyes and a black dot for a nose. But, it responds to touch and can turn and even sneeze.

What’s more, the little creature can dance, with its movements changing along with the beat of any music playing nearby. Keepon’s dancing is such a draw that a video posted on YouTube has generated 2.6 million views.

While there’s no conclusive studies on the effectiveness of Keepon among children with autism, initial observations showed that kids made more eye contact when interacting with the robot and expressed better social skills. As a result, researchers at several institutions purchased the device at $30,000 a piece.

Now, a consumer model is on its way — expected to ring up at under $50 — and Toys “R” Us is banking that the masses will respond. They’ve secured the exclusive U.S. rights to sell Keepon and plan to have it on store shelves in late October, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. To read more click here.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. fairlady68 says:

    I am torn about this concept of robotic pets and companions, which are constantly improving in quality and will be ubiquitous soon, I am sure. As I age in my aspergian singlehood, certain aspects of “real” pet ownership become more difficult, and it is appealing to think of getting some of these same needs met with a robot that requires less physical and emotional “care and feeding.” But it’s hard to imagine anything sweeter than my “real” cat’s constant and spontaneous displays of affection…I don’t think a robot could match that, and in addition, I am afraid I would lose some of my own personhood if I turned away from live cats to robotic ones.

  2. perla says:

    I feel that we are cutting ourselves and our (autistic) children from the natural world around them. They now get to interact with it through TV screens, through interactive video games, and now through fake but highly realistic animals/pets. This is absurd! But when making money is the name of the game, nothing remains neither safe nor sacred! I am also aging with Asperger’s and my dog and I do not feel that the contact and connection one can make with an animal can be replaced by a robot.

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