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SBIR Phase II: The Use of Gestural Interface and Robotics Technology to Facilitate Language Development
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This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to enhance functionality and clinically evaluate an interactive robotic system to facilitate receptive and expressive language development of children with disabilities. Developed by Anthrotronix, Inc., a rehabilitation engineering, consulting, and product development company, this child-friendly robot is controlled by various interfaces adapted to individual needs, regardless of physical limitations. The child controls the robot via gestures and voice activation. Gestures may include reaching for a button, operating a joystick, or activating wearable sensors through body movement. The child can play and record sound and movement commands and interact with the robot in the context of programmed games. The robot allows the child to interact with its environment. The controlling software can be updated so that the robot continues to hold the child's interest and imagination over time. This robotic technology is designed to provide reinforcements and motivation for learning and therapy. Objectives are to (1) finalize the design and manufacture of the robotic systems hardware and software and (2) evaluate the systems ability to provide interventional activities, motivation, and positive reinforcement in speech/language therapy.
Over 10% of all children have one or more disabilities. The number of children with speech and language impairments is higher than that for any other disability. A total of 1,050,975 students between the ages of 6 and 17 have a primary speech and language impairment and another 441,410 students have a secondary diagnosis of speech and language impairment. Anthrotronix is addressing the market need for therapists to have effective tools that support an approach that integrates speech/language development with children's educational development and social development, such as communication and interpersonal skills. There is a clear opportunity for products that enable therapists to provide increased motivation and education of children with disabilities while performing therapeutic functions.
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