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LuxAI Develops At-Home Robot To Help Children With Autism

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Published on Thursday, 08 April 2021

Since LuxAI’s inception as a spin-off of SnT in 2016, their QTrobot has received international praise for its success in engaging with children who have autism. On Friday 2 April, World Autism Awareness Day, they announced their expansion into social robots for the home. 

For those with autism, adapting to change is not an easy process. Taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have had to take on the role of educators. The knock-on effect of this is a lack of specialised care to those who need it most, and an increase in anxiety levels for both parties – two impacts that are just scratching the surface of the challenges faced during this time. In fact, in a study looking at the impact of social isolation on children, including those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the majority of those with ASD reported negative emotion management, and higher average scores of anxiety in both the child and parents. It’s this consequence of the pandemic that has made LuxAI’s QTrobot for the Home a breakthrough for children with autism and their caregivers.

Announced last week, the QTrobot for Home enables children to receive a learning experience that – quite literally – speaks directly to them. Using techniques such as soft speech, as well as engaging facial expressions and body language, one study showed this resulted in children benefitting from a higher attention span, improved focus and reduced disruptive behaviour when working with the robot compared to a person. 

“It can be difficult for parents to know where to start with educating any child, but the challenge is greater when taking responsibility for special needs education,” says Aida Nazarikhorram, Co-Founder and CMO of LuxAI. “Children with autism are drawn to technology, because it’s consistent, predictable and non-judgemental. In the form of a robot, this helps children to generalise the skills they learn from interacting with the technology and transfer them to social situations,” she continues. 

“A simple wave to say hello may be something they’ve been trying to teach their child for a long time, but with the QTrobot they were able to learn it quickly. It’s truly amazing to hear the positive feedback from parents, as they frequently see a big difference in their child’s attention and motivation to work.” 

Up to now, the QTrobot was only available to healthcare professionals, in specialist autism centres or research organisations. While the original costs $10,000 US, the home version is $1,977 US with a €145 subscription fee per month to benefit from LuxAI’s support – including a monthly meeting with their special needs education team, to support parents using the device.  

So what exactly does it do? In short, everything its advanced predecessor can. It teaches children with autism how to process their own emotions, as well as recognising the emotions of others, how to improve their social skills and deal with teasing, and even supports early-stage development for children up to the age of 4. “We want children to be able to reach their maximum potential, and for this they may need a lot of hours of training,” Aida explains. “We will continually develop new content and materials, so that the QTrobot becomes more advanced as the child grows older, to support their education over several years.”