Robotics engineers from Intuitive Automata are hoping the no-excuses approach of Autom, a weight-loss helper robot, will be just what dieters need in the quest toward smaller waistlines and better health.
Although many consumer-directed robots have been designed for human convenience, Autom is hoping to ensure these technological breakthroughs aren't making us lazy, according to Ubergizmo. The 15-inch tall bot includes an LCD-touchscreen display which allows users to keep track of both dietary statistics and exercise habits. But this health-conscious device is much more than a spreadsheet.
Autom provides customized feedback after analyzing the data inputs. The robot provides thoughtful encouragement when users stay on track with their goals and also offers helpful advice when they stray from the agreed upon program. And according to the source, owners can download novel speech patterns online if they think the feedback has become redundant or boring.
With a price tag just under $1,000, developers are facing skepticism from a variety of angles. There are a number of similar, free online and mobile applications that provide much the same service. However, Autom designer, Corry Kidd, told CNET that there is a "psychological difference" in play when using a machine that has a variety of human characteristics.
Kidd is counting on these personal touches to make all the difference among owners attempting to lose weight. From the device's watchful eyes to its positive reinforcement, engineers believe Autom has a variety of tools and inherent capabilities that will promote healthy behaviors and help dieters achieve their goals.
According to CNET, early empirical evidence seems to support this theory. A test group of 45 American dieters had their diet and exercise habits tracked for several weeks using a variety of different methods. As compared to computer-based and pencil-and-paper methods, dieters paired with Autom stuck to their programs for nearly twice as long as the alternative methods.
Mass production is expected to go into effect early next year, and technology pundits are curious to see which early adopters will embrace the robotic health aid. Kidd revealed to CNET that several large health and pharmaceutical organizations have already expressed interest in Autom.
If successful, the device could inspire a new wave of consumer-facing applications in robotics. While the field already has a strong foothold in the manufacturing sector, inventions such as Autom can attract renewed interest in the industry as customers realize that technology can in fact have a heart and help produce meaningful changes in one's personal life.