Social robots powered by IBM Watson as a support for children with health problems

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Avdelningen för visuell information och interaktion; Uppsala universitet/Avdelningen för visuell information och interaktion

Abstract: Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest for social robots withhuman-like behavior and their application in healthcare and education. However,there are still plenty of issues that needs to be resolved. One of these challenges isto enable the social robots to fill its role effectively, by creating engagement. In this report the study, that was conducted at IBM Sweden, aims to understandhow IBM Watson can be utilized in the Pepper robot; to engage and supportchildren from the Ronald McDonald House in Uppsala. This is a place for childrenwith health problems and their families to live temporarily. Furthermore, supportivebehaviors are investigated since such behaviors are suggested to be important toincrease the engagement. An initial prototype that used Watson's natural languageprocessing and Pepper, was developed based on user requirements gatheredthrough interviews using a User Centered Design methodology. The prototype wasiteratively developed, and a final evaluation was conducted that examined both theperception of the robot as well as the engagement it created. The evaluation showed that the children wanted to interact with the robot again andhighlighted that they were highly engaged. They perceived the robot as a friend andthe supportive behaviors such as giving praise, responding quickly and maintainingeye contact were most important. The main support the children wanted were tohelp them feel less lonely and the conclusion of this study is that this is a suitablegoal for a robot system.

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