Baby Robot: A system that helps toddlers follow their motor abilities


Actual Baby Robot’s prototype. While prototyping it should be uncovered as it’s struggling fixed modifications. Credit: Cañas et al.

Researchers at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona have not too long ago developed Baby Robot, a robotic toy that may very well be used to boost the motor abilities of toddlers. This system, offered in a paper pre-published on arXiv, can work together with toddlers in ways in which encourage them to maneuver round, both to strive greedy the robotic or to run away from it.

“Our study first emerged as a university project,” Alba M. G. García and Eric Cañas, the 2 grasp’s college students who carried out the examine, advised Tech Xplore. “We were living together while completing an MSc in artificial intelligence in Barcelona. One of the subjects we were taking, called “Cognitive Interaction with Robots,” and delivered by our lecturers Anaís Garrell and Cecilio Angulo, gave us the perfect opportunity to have a bit of fun during COVID-19 lockdown measures.”

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The primary goal of the current examine carried out by García and Cañas was to develop a system that would improve classical ‘crawling toys,” toys that many toddlers and babies play with while they are still crawling or as they are learning to walk. The researchers wanted to make crawling toys more interactive and entertaining, by giving them the ability to react to a toddler‘s conduct, as a substitute of simply having them randomly repeat a set of predefined actions.

Baby Robot is basically a car-like toy with a small digicam and a few sensors built-in in it. The robotic’s actions are deliberate by a collection of laptop imaginative and prescient algorithms that may detect a toddler, calculate a robotic’s relative place to it and plan actions that can enhance a toddler’s ranges of engagement with the toy, whereas additionally avoiding collisions with different objects.

First experimentation with the prototype. This video additionally reveals the constraints of a budget chipset it mounts. Delays between every motion are as a result of board limitations, which is each calculating its actions and sending photographs to an exterior PC. These issues would remedy by both updating to a extra highly effective board or updating to a digicam with a extra luminous lens, that might enable capturing photographs with a low movement blur whereas Baby Robot is shifting, so motion and processing steps might overlap, to be able to produce a fluid motion. Credit: Cañas et al.

“With the information collected by the robot, the algorithms compute the current state of the play session and how the robot should behave to motivate the baby to chase it (i.e., coming closer, escaping, demanding its attention, etc.),” García and Cañas mentioned. “Meanwhile, the robot can connect to an external device (such as a PC or a smartphone), not only for delegating some computations if needed, but also to stream the play session or even record it.”

Baby Robot has quite a few benefits over present crawling toys. The most noteworthy is that it’s primarily based on laptop imaginative and prescient methods that enable it to reply to a toddler’s actions as a substitute of performing random actions which can be unrelated to a toddler’s conduct. As a outcome, the robotic permits toddlers to experiment extra as they play, whereas additionally encouraging them to follow their motor abilities.

Baby Robot: a system that helps toddlers to practice their motor skills
Simplified scheme of the preliminary Baby Robot construction. Credit: Cañas et al.

García and Cañas evaluated their robotic in a real-world atmosphere, evaluating how a bunch of toddlers in kindergarten interreacted with it to how they performed with standard toy vehicles. This experiment was organized by their lecturer, Garrell, who reached out to a pedagoue and organized for them to go to a kindergarten to conduct their analysis.

Interestingly, they discovered that the toddlers performed with Baby Robot longer than they performed with the traditional crawling toys. In addition, the robotic toy appeared to boost the kids’s mobility abilities over time.

Baby Robot: a system that helps toddlers to practice their motor skills
Diagram of the Baby Robot conduct. Credit: Cañas et al.

“During our experiments, we observed that the engagement of the babies that were playing with the Baby Robot toy substitute significantly increased, leading them to be in movement 3.1 times longer and to travel 4.4 times more meters than those in the control condition,” García and Cañas mentioned. “This finding opens an interesting line of research about how crawling toys could process the baby’s feedback and motivate them to have longer and more efficient crawling sessions, as well as how computer vision can help to achieve this.”

So far, Baby Robot has proved to be a really promising toy for rising the motor abilities of toddlers. The researchers are thus contemplating whether or not to strategy toy producers who might make the system they developed accessible to the general public.

Baby Robot: a system that helps toddlers to practice their motor skills
Experimental setup. Credit: Cañas et al.

“We have thought several times about associating with a toy manufacturer, but we have not taken the first step yet,” García and Cañas mentioned. “Getting support from a toy market expert would allow us not only to transform our prototype into something that babies could actually play with, a resistant and approved toy, but also to develop more solid studies about how our robot improves a baby’s crawling sessions.”

One of the the explanation why García and Cañas haven’t but approached a toy producer is that their present prototype was constructed utilizing very low-cost parts. As a outcome, it may not but be able to be offered to potential buyers.

“We broke by accident a 60€ board while experimenting, since then, we decided to prototype it with the cheapest components we could find,” García and Cañas mentioned. “We thus ended up using lightweight and accessible products -without cost optimization, the total cost of the hardware does not surpass 70€-, but being able to experiment with more powerful boards or more luminous cameras would really improve the experience.”

Baby Robot: a system that helps toddlers to practice their motor skills
First Baby Robot’s prototype. Credit: Cañas et al.

As the robot is designed for toddlers, the researchers are additionally weary of the truth that is needs to be secure for kids. Before the toy is commercialized, it might thus have to bear a collection of exams, which they aren’t presently in a position to fund.

“You cannot give to a toddler a toy that is full of visible wires that could end in its stomach,” García and Cañas mentioned. “For this reason, in our experiments, we have managed to simulate its behavior using other remotely controlled toys that were already approved for babies. However, the most appropriate experimentation would require an expert manufacturer to build a resistant case that would let infants play directly with Baby Robot, rather than a surrogate version of it.”

In the long run, García and Cañas want to discover buyers serious about supporting their efforts to develop a complete line of laptop vision-powered toys. These would come with robots for kids at different phases of improvement, such older infants and first college college students.

Baby Robot: a system that helps toddlers to practice their motor skills
Toddlers from a kindergarten interacting with the crawling toys used for the management situation (prime) and the Baby Robot’s situation (backside). Credit: Cañas et al.

In addition, the researchers hope to hold out new pedagogic research that would assist to fine-tune their toy’s conduct. Baby Robot’s design permits it to supply lights, colours, sounds and cute facial expressions offered on a small display screen. While these interactive parts can improve a toddler’s expertise whereas taking part in with the toy, the crew didn’t implement them of their prototype but, as they most popular to particularly examine the results of its reactivity to the toddler on the ensuing playtime.

“In future studies, we would like to progressively include the rest of the stimuli in order to observe how each one of them affect the baby engagement separately,” García and Cañas mentioned. “Nevertheless, to be really conclusive, these further studies would require the inclusion of a toy manufacturer that could build a safe case for the toy, in order to directly experiment with it instead of surrogates.”

A robot vision system that diminishes occlusions using mirror reflections

More info:
Eric Cañas, Alba M. G. Garcia, Anaís Garrell, Cecilio Angulo, Baby Robot: Improving the Motor Skills of Toddlers. arXiv:2109.09223v1 [cs.RO],

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Baby Robot: A system that helps toddlers follow their motor abilities (2021, September 30)
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