This got us thinking...
If children were so interactive with a robot arm in a science center, perhaps it could be put to use in a pediatric setting. That's when we began our research with a humanoid robot to help children manage pain and distress during medical procedures. Affectionately named MEDiTM, this robot is programmed with cognitive-behavioral strategies to coach children through pain, giving them a sense of mastery. MEDi also distracts them with interactive games, conversation, and music.
Here is all our research work so far:
Pearson, J. R. & Beran, T. N. (2018). The future is now: Using humanoid robots in child life practice. In L. Rubin (Ed.), Handbook of medical play therapy and child life (pp. 351-372). NY: Routledge.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Vanderkooi, O., & Kuhn, S. (2013). Humanoid robotics in health care: An exploration of children’s and parents’ emotional reactions. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(7), 984-989.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Vanderkooi, O., & Kuhn, S. (2013). Reducing children’s distress towards flu vaccinations: A novel and effective use of humanoid robotics. Vaccine, 31(25), 2772-2777.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Kuhn, S., & Vanderkooi, O. (2012). Robotics in health care: Reducing child distress during flu vaccination. [Abstract]. Paediatrics and Child Health, 17, 28A.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Kuzyk, R., Fior, M., & Nugent, S. (2011). Understanding how children understand robots: Animism in the 21st century. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 69, 539-550.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Kuzyk, R., Nugent, S., & Fior, M. (2011). Would children help a robot in need? International Journal of Social Robotics, 3(1), 83-92.
Beran, T. N. & Ramirez-Serrano, A. (2011). Robot arm-child interactions: A novel application using bio-inspired motion control. In S. Goto (Ed.), Robot arms (pp. 241-262). InTech Publisher.
Fior, M., Nugent, S., Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., & Kuzyk, R. (2010). Children’s relationships with robots: Robot is child’s new friend. Journal of Physical Agents, 4(3), 9-17.
Pearson, J. (June, 2017). Introducing a MEDi-robot to reduce pain and distress during medical procedures at Alberta Children's Hospital. Poster presentation at Alberta Children's Hospital Quality Improvement Forum, Calgary.
Manesh, S. A., Beran, T. N., Sharlin, S., & Greenberg, S. (April, 2014). Medi, human robot interaction in pediatric health. Video Showcase at the ACM CHI Conference, Toronto.
Beran, T. N., & Aghel Manesh, S. (April, 2014). Bringing humanoid robots to the bedside for pediatric pain management. Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute Symposium, Calgary. Manesh, S. A., Sharlin, E.,Greenberg, S., & Beran, T. N. (May 2013). A Robot that Comforts Children During Blood Testing. Presentation at University of Calgary, Computer Science CPSC Industry Day, Calgary. Rated 4th best poster.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Vanderkooi, O., & Kuhn, S. (Apr 2012). Roboticsin health care: Reducing child distress during flu vaccination. Presentation at the Paediatric Academic Societies Annual Conference, Boston.
Beran, T. N., Ramirez-Serrano, A., Kuhn, S., & Vanderkooi, O. (Jun 2012). Robotics in health care: Evidence that a robot reduces child distress during flu vaccination. Presentation at the Canadian Paediatric Society Annual Conference, London, ON.
Beran, T. N. & Ramirez-Serrano, A. (2011). Can children have a relationship with a robot? M H Lamers & F J Verbeek (Eds.), Human-Robot Personal Relationships. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference, HRPR 2010, (pp 49-56). The Netherlands: Springer Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering.
We started learning...
In 2009, our research team built a robot arm, decorated it with craft materials, and displayed it at the Telus World of Science. We programmed it to stack blocks, and to "accidentally" drop the last block. We observed children trying to help the robot arm by talking to it and even yelling at it to try again. We were especially surprised to discover that the majority of children thought it had the ability to think, feel, and act in ways that clearly it couldn't.