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
  • 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

  • 4-19-14 FBLA photo CHS Future Business Leaders of America attend conference Thirty members of the Clinton High School Future Business Leaders of America attended their spring leadership conference at the Marriott Coralville from March 26-29. Students attending the conference competed against other Iowa students in state and

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. stock market rebounds after choppy day A stock market swoon turned into a comeback Tuesday. Stocks managed a late-afternoon rebound for the second time in two days as investors seemed to brush off a report of lower confidence among homebuilders and simmering tensions in the Ukraine. The l

    April 16, 2014

  • Document shredding offered CLINTON -- A Clinton bank will provide document shredding this weekend. The free service will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Citizens First Bank's office at 1442 Lincoln Way. This is the 10th year the bank has offered this service, Citizens Fi

    April 15, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax fraud Bogus tax refunds a growing problem WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Internet connection and a bunch of stolen identities are all it takes for crooks to collect billions of dollars in bogus federal tax refunds. And the scam is proving too pervasive to stop. A government report in November said t

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Investors flee tech stocks again, pummeling Nasdaq NEW YORK -- The high-flyers are laying the stock market low -- once again. Investors turned against biotech, Internet and other once-soaring stocks on Thursday, driving the Nasdaq composite index to its worst day since 2011. The sell-off in tech name

    April 11, 2014

Facebook