One of those children is Eden Sawczenko, a four-year-old who was having problems relating to other children trying to hug her or to some people when they tried to get her to show emotion. Since interacting with the robot, she has become more emotional and affectionate around others, according to her mother.
The robot is called Kaspar, and he is programmed to be able to smile, frown, laugh, blink and wave his arms. He is small, his hair is black and somewhat shaggy, and he has on a baseball hat, striped socks, and a shirt and shorts. There are a variety of versions of Kaspar, even one that is programmed to play the Wii game console. He was made by some scientists from the University of Hertfordshire and cost about $2,118, and they hope to get that cost down to a few hundred by mass producing it.
One of the scientists said that autistic kids don’t always react well to others due to the fact they don’t understand facial expressions, but robots are easier to interpret and are very predictable. He added that because of that, the children can learn how to express emotions after a few sessions with Kaspar.
Kaspar can do things like laugh if his feet are tickled, cry or hide his face if he is hurt, smile, frown, and other appropriate signals that help teach the kids who normally can’t undertand these simple gestures.
Similar projects are going on elsewhere in the world, including Canada, U.S, and Japan.