With technological advancements in the medical field booming, man has more reason than ever to thrive and find purpose.
“Huggable’s purpose of existence is to interact on an emotional level with children.”
This statement could be spoken by anyone, about any given toy or children’s product in the world. By the same token, it can also speak volumes about purpose–and the journey that one takes in order to find their purpose in life. Luckily, these words from Luke Plummer, MIT robotics engineer–serve both purposes.
In a random yet calculated burst of thought, Plummer and team designed a protocol for Huggable–a kid friendly talking teddy bear. They came up with early drawings and ideas about how this vibrant, blue teddy should be. However, Plummer knew from the start that he didn’t want Huggable to be just an ordinary toy to be sat on a shelf in a child’s bedroom. He knew he wanted this creation to have a deeper meaning–and thus–serve a deeper purpose.
Plummer wanted Huggable to help children with cancer at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, who are too ill to leave their hospital beds or step outside through heavy double doors. He wanted Huggable to not only be able to ease the fear, pain and uncertainty of cancer, but also have the capability to ask young patients consoling questions, such as what they fear most about the disease and how they cope with it.
In the video above, Luke and Sooyeon Jeong–research specialist at MIT media labs–explain how they use perhaps one of the most modern, most commonly used pieces of technology to give Huggable those capabilities. The efforts of their tireless work are on full display throughout the video, as Huggable meets 10-year-old Aurora for the first time, a patient at Boston Children’s Hospital who suffers from leukemia.
“The cool thing that we do in designing robots is we start with an animated character–big head, big eyes. Things that make a character cute. That character deign also involves motion and a certain way that it moves, so in the beginning, it’s mechanically designed to move a certain way,” Plummer says.
Jeong then builds on that, saying, “We built a Huggable app for the Android smartphone. The phone is placed behind [Huggable’s ] eyes, then we cover it up with fur.”
Much like Zion Harvey’s story, this is yet another example of why history books won’t read ‘Man vs. Machine decades from now. It’s another reason why man needs to keep faith in the goodness of technology. Most importantly, it’s why man needs to keeps his pulse locked on the future–and his eyes toward the sky.