Leah Moore is a 13-year-old African-American female. She has hydrocephalus,
sensorineural hearing loss, global developmental delay with autistic features, Cerebral Palsy and strabismus with poor vision. Leah's cognitive level is 5yr.-6yr. old. She is left-handed and weaker on the right side of her body. Leah uses a wheelchair for travel and seated tasks and walks well with a walker. Leah’s verbal output has increased since wearing hearing aids. She can indicate simple wants and needs by using simple sign language and picture communication. She has low comfort with technology but her mom desired a robot companion that can help with school (identifying letters, numbers, patterns, etc) and social skills (greeting, sharing, manners), and can use games to help her focus, sign and vocalize.I, along with my teammates, developed a prototype concept for a social robot that met Leah's mother's wants and needs for her robot companion.
This robot is a doll-like, humanoid social robot that can be placed in front of Leah by her caregiver, who is with her at all times. The robot is black to allow Leah to identify more strongly with it and it is dressed in her favorite colors, red and pink. The robot will blink its eyes and move its mouth while it speaks. The robot has interactive games which tell stories through a speaker and pose questions to Leah throughout . These fill-in-the-blank questions will allow Leah to verbally respond in an effort to improve her verbal output. The robot will contain a microphone that will listen for her response. Additionally, this humanoid robot will have one robotic limb on its right side so it is mirror image to Leah’s dominant side. This limb will have a dexterous, actuated arm and hand that are capable of forming one-handed signs such as the alphabet, bathroom, and “I love you”. If Leah answers questions correctly, the robot will provide verbal positive feedback, otherwise it will ask her to try again. Finally, the robot will have punch card slots mounted to its front with a button below each punch card. The caregiver will have sets of cards, such as letters of the alphabet, simple signs, and food, that can be used in many ways. One use would be for the caregiver to place cards in the slots, pose a question to Leah, and ask her to push the button that corresponds to her answer.