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Friday, March 01, 2013

Patent Watch: NEC Child-care robot

Japanese NEC Corporation has received a patent for a "Child-care robot and a method of controlling the robot" (U.S. Pat 8376803)

The patent describes "a child-care robot for use in a nursery school associates child behavior patterns with corresponding robot action patterns, and acquires a child behavior pattern when a child behaves in a specified pattern. The robot selects one of the robot action patterns, which is associated with the acquired child behavior pattern, and performs the selected robot action pattern. Additionally, the robot associates child identifiers with parent identifiers, and receives an inquiry message from a remote terminal indicating a parent identifier. The robot detects one of the child identifiers, which is associated with the parent identifier of the inquiry message, acquires an image or a voice of a child identified by the detected child identifier, and transmits the acquired image or voice to the remote terminal. The robot further moves in search of a child, measures the temperature of the child, and associates the temperature with time of day at which it was measured."

NEC Corporation started in 1997 to investigate the "relationship between people and robots. The Communication robot PaPeRo, a research prototype robot, has been extensively tested in kindergartens and care facilities over the years. PaPeRo could be used to control home appliances, allow parents to keep an eye on their children through a real-time cellphone video feed, and access the internet to read emails or rss feeds. NEC envisions PaPeRo as a teacher’s assistant to help motivate kids, and play games and quizzes. Since 2009 NEC has also been leasing the PaPeRo R500 for enterprises aimed at testing the market.

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