The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Business & Technology

April 3, 2013

Teaching robot a hit with autistic students

HAVERHILL, Mass. — NAO the robot entertained a school audience by dancing “Gangnam Style” — just like South Korean pop singer PSY.

But when he’s at his day job, Haverhill’s state-of-the-art automaton works with teachers and young autistic children.

Haverhill is among a few school districts in the United States chosen by the Paris-based Aldebaran Robotics company as a test site for its newest humanoid robot.

NAO, as it’s called, was developed specifically to assist teachers working with students who suffer from autism, said Olivier Joubert, a programmer for the company.

According to information provided by Aldebaran, NAO is “a fully interactive, versatile, fun and continuously evolving humanoid robot able to host educative, entertaining and daily-life assistance applications.”

“Most children diagnosed with autism are attracted to technology to some extent because of its predictability, low amount of sensory information to process, and judgment-free demeanor compared to human interactions,” Joubert said. “While NAO cannot cure autism, we believe he will not only makes kids smile, but more importantly teach them important social interaction skills.”

Moody School Principal Maureen Gray said the company tested the 22.5-inch-tall robot at the school before it arrived for good two weeks ago.

“It was incredible to see how well NAO did with some of our autistic students,” Gray said. “Some students who barely react to people had a great reaction to the robot.”

Moody School’s 200 prekindergarten students include a mix of regular and special education students in integrated classrooms, Gray said.

NAO uses two built-in cameras and vocal recognition software to recognize faces and voices, Joubert said. It can even play catch by using its “prehensile” fingers to grasp a ball, he said.

When the program was opened to elementary schools, Haverhill was one of 30 to 40 American schools that contacted the company, Joubert said.

Text Only
Business & Technology
  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Apple offering free recycling of all used products

    Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.

    The iPhone and iPad maker is detailing its efforts to cultivate a greener Apple Inc. in an environmental section on the company's website that debuted Monday. The site highlights the ways that the Cupertino, Calif., company is increasing its reliance on alternative power sources and sending less electronic junk to landfills.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

  • Minnick New director at Ashford CLINTON -- Ashford University has appointed a new vice president/campus director of its Clinton campus. Charlie Minnick has been appointed for the position. He has been in the position on an interim basis since Jan. 1. Ashford University Provost Lori

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • McEleney McEleney elected to insurance board CLINTON -- A car dealership owner recently earned a spot on a national insurance board. John McEleney, of Clinton and owner of McEleney Motors, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federated Insurance Companies. The election took place this w

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Local farmers honored DES MOINES -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that Marty and Michael Burken who run Blue Hyll Dairy in rural Clinton County have been named the April winners of the "Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award." Northey will present

    April 18, 2014

Facebook