Aldebaran Robotics' NAO Robot Goes to School to Help Children with Autism

ASK NAO Initiative to Revolutionize Special Education for Children with Autism

BOSTON, May 29, 2013


Aldebaran Robotics, the world leader in humanoid robotics, today announced the launch of the ASK NAO (Autism Solution for Kids) initiative for use in special education and specifically, for children with autism. The launch is part of an effort to revolutionize special needs education through NAO, the Company's interactive humanoid robot who has been readily embraced by children with autism and uses games to stimulate their social skills and help them achieve greater independence.

With more than 3,500 units sold around the world, NAO is the most widely-used humanoid robot in the fields of education and research. NAO combines a host of interactive, autonomous, and completely programmable technologies, and is well on its way to becoming a robotic companion for individuals.

NAO acts as a companion to children with special needs to help bridge the gap between the world of technology and humanity's social universe. Through this initiative, Aldebaran is making learning more fun for children while helping educators more effectively achieve learning goals.

"Most children on the autism spectrum have a natural attraction towards technology and NAO's humanoid shape creates a perfect link between technology and humanity," said Olivier Joubert , Neuropsychology, Ph.D. and Autism Business Unit Manager at Aldebaran. "We have developed educational games that allow children to work on verbal and non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, mimicking, and even basic academic skills. NAO locks these skills in children and also builds their confidence. After a year of testing, gaining the positive feedback from our beta testing schools in Britain and the United States, and the encouragement of the autism community, we have been driven to launch this initiative to help children with autism throughout the world realize their full potential."

In addition to the NAO robot, ASK NAO provides educators with a user-friendly online interface for planning, monitoring and analyzing NAO interactions and their impact on learning. This interface accomplishes the core requirements of special education in the school environment by improving communication channels between the various education professionals and parents in order to gain a better understanding of each child, automatically recording children's progress and helping to set up lessons with NAO.

Aldebaran Robotics has collaborated with teachers to develop applications inspired by applied behavior analysis (ABA, PECS, TEACCH, DENVER, SCERTS) methods. The aim of these applications is to help children develop social and learning skills through encouragement and rewards, making it possible to positively stimulate them, give them confidence and help them move toward greater independence.

The ASK NAO Initiative is supported by educators who specialize in autism, as well as by parents who see NAO as a technological breakthrough that meets the demands of personalized educational support.

According to Ben Waterworth , a teacher at Topcliffe School, "NAO has the potential to be an outstanding teaching resource. The ASD children benefit a lot from using NAO. You see a different side of them when they are working with him. You see them comfortable with NAO, responding to him and I just think these are features you just would not see with a human. They would be more shy with that person, they would be more withheld or withdrawn, whereas with NAO they are more outgoing."

Stanton et al. (2008) revealed a 30% increase in the number of social interactions as well as better verbal communication in some children with autism when a robot is in the same room. Improvement is not only noticeable in interactions with the robot, but also in subsequent interactions with parents and therapists.

Aldebaran Robotics is pleased to announce the ASK NAO initiative will be on display during the following upcoming conferences: the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Conference in Houston, Texas June 11-13, the Autism Show in London June 14-15, and the SDE National Conference on Differentiated Instruction in Las Vegas, NV July 15-19, 2013.

For more information and to view of a video of NAO, please visit: http://asknao.aldebaran-robotics.com

About Aldebaran Robotics

Founded in 2005 by Bruno Maisonnier and now established in France, the US and China, ALDEBARAN ROBOTICS designs, produces and sells humanoid robots in order to contribute to the betterment of humankind. There are currently over 3,500 NAO robots operating in schools and universities in over 70 countries worldwide for education and research. ALDEBARAN ROBOTICS has a team of 300 people, 40% of whom are engineers and doctors, involved in developing and producing its robots. For further information about ALDEBARAN ROBOTICS, please go to: http://www.aldebaran-robotics.com

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