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Author Topic: Tombot  (Read 205 times)

aibo7m3

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Tombot
« on: March 30, 2019, 04:57:57 PM »

Has anyone heard of this robot before? Here is a link to the Kickstarter page. It's being advertised as a more advanced therapy robot than Joy for All, but for a much lower cost than Paro. It is being marketed specifically toward seniors who are no longer able to take care of a real dog and its hyperrealism is a selling point that the company seems to be pushing very hard. This is one of the first robots I've seen that is very blatantly being advertised as a dog substitute, which is an interesting marketing move, but I could see it backfiring on the company. It's still in the Kickstarter stage of development and pre-orders are $300, but the robot will retail for $450 after it is released.

The images of the prototype's internal are interesting, it looks like it may have a cable system in the neck like Pleo, but it is difficult to see for sure. The neck does look like it's very flexible, but I assume that's because only the robot's head/neck and tail move, the rest of the body is static. I am curious whether this robot has a hard plastic frame throughout like the Joy for All robots or whether parts of the body and the legs will be soft and cuddly, since I think one of Joy for All's largest drawbacks as a therapy robot is that it has no padding over the frame and does not feel very pleasant to cuddle. The company is also promising that there will be software upgrades available to add new behaviors and fix any bugs that arise. I like the appearance, but think it could fall into the uncanny valley for some people and I'm not completely sold on the noises that it makes (though it is certainly more realistic sounding than Joy for All).

I am hesitant about paying for a product over a year in advance of its release and am worried about what might happen if the company goes under before the product makes it to the market, but I am considering putting a pre-order in. I would like to see more of what all this robot can do before spending $300 on it though. However, any attempt at a relatively affordable but advanced therapy robot is something I want to support, especially as a researcher in therapy and social robotics myself.

What are everyone's opinions on this bot?
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pnhicks

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2019, 05:09:05 AM »

Hi Aibo7m3,


It is what it is, i.e., a therapy robot for adults with dementia and Alzheimer's.  It doesn't "do" much, it doesn't have to in order to be effective as a therapy tool. The Paro seal is even more inert (and cost a fortune) and yet they say it is effective.  I believe that the tick to the question is something in the avatar has to stimulate a response in patient. The avatar has to give a cue, it can be visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, that triggers an emotional response.


One of the sweetest ladies in the residence where I volunteer has a stuffed doll that works the treat for her.  I use the Pleo with 50/50 success, when it clicks with someone its magic to watch, when it doesn't, I have to catch it in midair or replace the neck cables after a "strangulation" attempt.


There is no silver bullet for patients with dementia, anyone who tries to reach out to help them needs a lot of "tools" in their tool bag, namely empathy, patience, and affection. 


I would love one of these guys for the residence, mainly for the soft and cuddly side as the Pleo is too reptile and rubbery for some, but I struggle to buy 70 euro Pleos, and the 300 dollar Tombot pledge starters are almost sold out. 


Time will tell if they got it right!


Cheers,


Peter in Spain



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aibo7m3

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2019, 01:52:59 PM »

I actually spent a year working with Paro at a research lab and now own a Paro myself (I didn't pay anywhere remotely near retail, thankfully). I think Paro is a very interesting innovation and enjoy mine, but I do think Hasbro's Joy for All has many of the same effects at a much lower cost. I am currently pursuing social robotics (with a focus on therapy robots) as a career path, so I am very interested in tracking any new developments in the field.

Referring to what the robot does may have been the wrong wording, but I would like to see a bit more of Tombot before backing it. The dev team has announced that they'll be hosting a Webinar today that will show their current prototype operating in real time, which is exactly the sort of news that I was hoping for. I think companies often portray one side of a product in commercials, but robots are often over-hyped early on in development and the final product does not compare to the company's promises, so I am very interested to get a better idea of the stage that this robot is at. Here's a link to the Webinar if anyone here is interested in watching. There is one starting in just an hour and another on Tuesday.

I have also done volunteer work with Pleo at a nursing home and have had mixed results similar to you. Some residents loved meeting Buddy the Pleo and couldn't wait for his visit each week, while others were genuinely afraid of or even aggressive toward him. I would love to work with Aibo in a similar setting since Aibo is what made me fall in love with social robotics, but Aibo is not "cuddly," which is a huge drawback for its use in therapy. I think Tombot is cute personally, but given the mixed responses to Pleo, I am worried that residents might be even more divided over it since it is made to look so much like a dog, but is fundamentally different from a real dog. I know that early in development, Paro's creator considered making Paro a cat instead of a seal, but the responses he received to the cat were much more negative because people compared it to a real cat and saw where it fell short in comparison, while most people did not make comparisons about the seal since many had never even seen a real seal in person.
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pnhicks

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2019, 09:18:58 AM »

Hi Aibo7m3


I just finished a really long reply to you that turned into ether thanks to the forum :'( ??? :o


Well, now that I have composed myself and not thrown my laptop against the wall, here's a synopsis of my beautiful epic post :( :


Congratulations on your career choice, you will make a great therapist!


I went into great and unnecessary detail about my personal history with therapy dogs (incredible animals) and yet they still had limitations and were not effective with all patients for various reasons.


Very poetically, I went on to explain how I believe that therapy avatars "work" by evoking an emotional response, and how as unique individuals, what provokes an emotional response in one individual, will not necessarily provoke the same response in another individual.


I used an example from your post:  "Aibo is what made me fall in love with social robotics", obviously if Aibo could provoke this feeling in you (strong enough to use the work love), he could provoke that same feeling in SOME others in a therapy situation.
.
Therapy avatars (or therapy animals) will never be "enough  xxxxxx" (fill in the blank) for all patients.


Our brains are amazing and confusing places, and what makes them light up is anybodies guess, which make it such a great field of study!


Cheers!


Peter in Spain
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mweed

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2019, 09:50:39 PM »

Sorry about the long post vanishing into thin air.  I get paranoid of just that, so when I type in a post of any real size, I highlight it all and copy it using Ctrl-C before click on the Post button, that way I can always paste it back and try again.

I currently work for a state mental health center and we have worked with therapy animals for years.  This dog does hold some promise.
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pnhicks

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2019, 02:08:57 AM »

Hi Mike,


I should have written it in a text editor first, but I had no idea I was going to ramble on for so long!


I was fuming about when there is a time out or authorization error when posting there is no option to save the text.


In any case, it probably wasn't fair to blame the forum for not saving my work  :D


Cheers!


Peter
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mweed

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Re: Tombot
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2019, 01:37:52 PM »

I understand.  I learned the hard way quite a few times.   %)  I still get time-outs, especially when starting a new topic.  It probably is bad coding on the part of the forum developers.
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