Autom getting ready for Halloween

We have big news coming soon about when we’ll be shipping Autom™ to those of you who have already pre-ordered and about our new manufacturing partner.
For the moment, Autom™ is having some fun and getting ready for Halloween!  And we need you to help figure out what she should go out dressed as tonight.
The six costumes that she has been trying on this morning are here.  Click on any of them to see the larger version.  Then vote in the poll below to tell us which is your favorite.  And who knows, if they’re popular enough, the items you choose or comment on here may show up as an optional accessory for you to purchase before next Halloween.
And there’s also an opportunity for you to win now.  If you pre-order Autom™ today (October 31st) or if you go to our Facebook page and share the link to this blog that we just posted, you’ll get an entry to win six free months of subscription when you purchase Autom™.  (Purchasing her and sharing gets you two entries.)

Planning your exercise? Proceed with caution.

Two articles in the last month have caught my eye about the potential pitfalls of exercise.  Both were in the NY Times — the first was on the injuries that can be caused by yoga and the second on the all-too-common injuries in running and how your footfall might be a predictor.

Of course many forms of physical activity are well known to have the potential to cause injury (football, hockey, or boxing concussions, anyone?).  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably an active exerciser, getting into it, or trying to figure out what you want to do.  At Intuitive Automata, the way that we look at it for ourselves and our customers is that we should proceed with caution.  Definitely try out new things, but apply a good dose of common sense to whatever you attempt.  Start gradually and build up whatever exercise you are doing over time.  If it hurts, stop, slow down, or find a new way to go about it.

But definitely go out and get some exercise!  Whether you’re trying to lose weight, live a little healthier, or reach a new fitness goal, nothing will make you feel better about making progress than getting yourself moving every day.  Just be careful not to overdo it and you’ll be at it for a long time.

Smartphones can make you healthier — with Autom’s help?

A recent article in Fast Company magazine on the myriad things that smartphones are starting to do that can help us not only track our health, but to improve it as well.  I was excited to see the article starting off with Ramesh Raskar’s work at the MIT Media Lab (Camera Culture Group), which was where I developed the prototype version of what has become Autom™ (old research page  and Cynthia Breazeal’s Personal Robots Group).  Ramesh has developed a smartphone app and an add-on device for the phone’s camera that lets the phone be used for conducting eye exams with around $30 of equipment.  This has been spun off into a company called EyeNetra ( to help put this technology into the hands of as many people as possible.

But this is just the beginning of what is talked about in the article, which is in turn only a small piece of the coming revolution in consumer healthcare technology.  At Intuitive Automata, we’re excited about devices such as the Fitbit that tracks your steps throughout the day; the armbands from BodyMedia that tell you how many calories you’ve burned, how many steps you’ve taken, and more; and the Withings scale that will report your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI every time you step on it.  The reason we like these devices is that they automatically transmit this information to your account on the Internet where today they’re accessible to you via a web site or smartphone app and tomorrow Autom™ will know these numbers and be able to give you even better feedback and advice based on exactly what you’re doing each day.

We’re seeing a lot of changes in recent years in the technology that is available to help each of us keep track of what we’re doing.  And this is great — but mostly for those of us (like me) who love to track all of these numbers.  Which reminds me that it’s time to sync my BodyMedia armband in the background while I type.  What’s coming next is even more exciting though and that’s the ability to do something more intelligent with those numbers.  After all, what’s important is not really the 8,278 steps I walked today (an inactive day with lots of meetings for me), but what I should be doing to reach my goal of living a healthy life.

What we’re working on at Intuitive Automata is that next level of making sense of all of this data and presenting it to each of us in a way that is not only easy to understand, but is actionable.  What I really want is to know what I should work on tomorrow and over the coming days to make sure that I can continue to lead an active, healthy lifestyle for as long as possible.  So what do all of these smartphone apps and consumer healthcare devices really mean?  Hopefully that each of us can be as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

TechCrunch calls Autom™ one of The Most Important Gadgets Of 2012

TechCrunch published a year-end article looking at their predictions for the most important gadgets of the coming year.  Their first prediction is the importance of health-related technology and they talk about two products that they see as really making a difference in health, Autom™ and the FitBit. Take a look at the article here.

You can be sure to be one of the first to have Autom™ at home by placing your order now.

Autom™ — users stick with it

Using Autom

Not convinced that Autom™ will work for you? We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. Research by Intuitive Automata’s founder, Dr. Cory Kidd, at the MIT Media Lab and Boston University Medical Center combines insights from the fields of technology, the social sciences, and medicine to understand in detail how people interact with robots. Key results from his research prove that when compared to interacting with a character on a screen (such as a computer or mobile phone), people find information coming from a robot to be more credible and informative. Robots are also more engaging than a screen-based characters and keep people interested for significantly longer.

Dr. Kidd has performed studies with a half dozen robots and hundreds of people. In the case of Autom™, he completed a randomized, controlled study comparing Autom™ to other means of weight loss. Participants each received some means of tracking their eating and exercise: 15 people received the prototype version of Autom™, 15 got a computer with the same touch screen as was on the front of Autom™ running the identical software, and 15 were given a paper log like most diets still use. Each person was asked to keep up with their eating and exercise for 6 weeks, as would be done in most weight loss programs.

People interacting with Autom™ were much more likely to stick with their diet for longer. The average time someone used the robot (51 days) was nearly twice as long as with paper (27 days) and about 40% longer than with the computer (36 days). While not one person among the computer or paper groups continued the study past 6 weeks (and hardly anyone made it that long!), most who had Autom™ named her, dressed her up, and did not want to give her back at the conclusion of the study! Have you ever heard of someone naming their iPhone weight loss app?

The bottom line is that a robot creates a more powerful and long-lasting relationship with the people than other products. This is extremely important when the goal is to make healthy lifestyle changes in order to lose and keep weight off for good.

If you’d like to learn more about the study, this interview with Dr. Kidd on CBC Radio is a great place to start:

Send Autom to Vegas!

Autom™ is up for the Last Gadget Standing Award at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  The award goes to the technology that is “most likely to change the face of technology”.  We believe that Autom™ definitely qualifies for this!  Help us make sure that she is one of the 10 finalists on stage as a finalist for the award in January 2012.

In her own words:

Sociable robots in healthcare — my TEDx talk

I gave a TEDx talk in Hong Kong a couple weeks ago.  The audience was the youth of Hong Kong and I was talking about the coming prevalence of interactive robots in our homes.

During the 15 minute talk, I discuss some of the studies that came before I came up with the idea of Autom™ and that led directly to her creation.  So if you’d like to understand a little more of the why of Autom™, this is a good introduction.

My conclusion in this talk: we’ll all have interactive robots in our homes in the next 5 years!  Autom™ is one of the first on the market, so if you want to be one of the first people to live in the future, get one now.

If you have questions or comments on the talk or the research, I would love to hear them.  Please leave them in the comments below.

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