Scientists have been working on robots for years that are able do things like dance and play soccer, among many other things. And now a team of people from The MIT Media Lab are working on a robot that would act as your own personal weight loss coach. They’re building a set of these weight-loss robots that will be going into homes of those living in the Boston area so that they can study if and how well the robots work, and how people interact with them.
Once the robots are in the homes, the Scientists are hoping to see what the impacts of using a robot versus just the software would be, and if people would actually like using it to guide them along and help them reach their goals. The robot will ask you how much exercise you’ve gotten, and then you’d use a touch screen to input how much exercise you got, and what you’ve eaten. The robot also has a camera for face tracking, and its eyes will follow you as you’re talking to it so that it will be a more personalized experience.
A conversation with the robot would go something like this:
Hi, I’m ready to work with you to help you meet your goals. Thank you for coming back. I hope you’ve had a good day so far. It’s helpful for us if you’ll tell me how much exercise you’ve gotten today. Would you do that now?
To me at least, it doesn’t seem like this robot would be doing anything for you that you wouldn’t already be able to do on some of these weight loss sights that allow you to keep a weight-loss journal. But the difference may be that the robot will always be there to ask you how you’ve been doing with exercise and what you’ve eaten, whereas with a website or another method, you’d have to take the responsibility to go to it to enter in the information. And if the robot can say “FREEZE, drop the cookies and get yourself some carrots instead,” lots of us would benefit. :)
If you’d like to see the robot in action, The Media Lab has a video demonstration.