Health Care

Robotic duck at CES looks to help children cope with cancer

Robotic duck at CES looks to help children cope with cancer”

The My Special Aflac Duck for children facing cancer is seen on display during the CES Unveiled preview event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

Insurance company Aflac unveiled My Special Aflac Duck, a social robot companion resembling its mascot for children with cancer. It features a port-a-cath with an RFID chip. Together the companies spent 18 months, working with children undergoing chemotherapy to figure out what kids need and want in a companion, during the hard time. It comes with RFID-enabled emoji cards, and it can be used to express the emotions of children. Aflac plans to distribute My Special Duck to all children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. at free of cost. Currently, there are around 16,000 children are being diagnosed with cancer. Beginning later this year, the ducks will be distributed free to kid patients. Horowitzh partner with the Rhode Island-based company to Sproutal.

Aflac and Horowitz said they make no claims the duck has medicinal value - instead, they want the ducks to provide comfort, help them cope with treatment and distract them from what they're going through.

Aaron Horowitz was diagnosed with a debilitating condition as a child. But she cited success with social robots in the education world and with some in research with autistic children and adults. Some of the robotic devices look like quintessential robots and animal toys.

Aflac brought a real duck at the launch of the robotic duck. Sproutel is also the developer of Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion that helps kids with diabetes manage their health. Children take care of Jerry by feeding him, giving him insulin and monitoring his blood glucose levels.

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