Kids, Angry Birds and Robots Could Lead to Future Rehab Tool

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Robots taught to play “Angry Birds” could someday be used to help children with disabilities. A new study by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers found that kids enjoyed teaching a small humanoid robot to play Angry Birds on a tablet, and interacted considerably more with the bot than with a human adult. The researchers envision a future where the robot could serve as a rehabilitation tool for children with cognitive and motor-skill disabilities. Parents don’t always have time or enough patience for repetitive rehab sessions, but a robot never gets tired or bored.

"Imagine that a child’s rehab requires a hundred arm movements to improve precise hand-coordination movements," said Georgia Tech’s Ayanna Howard, who is leading the project. "He or she must touch and swipe the tablet repeatedly, something that can be boring and monotonous after a while. But if a robotic friend needs help with the game, the child is more likely to take the time to teach it, even if it requires repeating the same instructions over and over again."

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— James Eng, NBC News