Machines

Robot Checks Preschoolers’ Health Every Morning

Chinese kids from thousands of preschools start their days by interacting with a robot.

The robot in question is called Walklake and his job is to carefully scan children for any signs of illness in order to alert a teacher or a school nurse in time. Once that happens, the humans, be it teachers or nurses, decide if the kind needs to to be sent home for the day, the New Scientist reports.

To do a general health check, the robot needs just 3 seconds. Walklake is equipped with cameras and sensors to perform his duties, including checking for symptoms like fever or irritated throat.

If the disease is discovered in time, and the child sent home, spreading it to other preschoolers is completely avoided.

“It’s allowing for better health monitoring, especially in places that have large populations but not enough skilled health professionals,” said Karen Panetta, an engineering professor at Tufts University.

Walklake looks extremely friendly, courtesy of its graphics and the brightly colors chosen for it. Yet, it is not 100% safe, believes Joanna Bryson, a computer science professor at the University of Bath. The professor has said to the publication that the possibility that hackers could access its data is real.

However, there’s no denying that it’s easier for kids to let Walklake check their health than a human stranger.

“The robots can be very appealing to kids,” she told New Scientist, “and may make them willing to have their health checked every day.”

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