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Your Child’s New Robot buddy Makes Reading A Lot More Fun

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Children are more enthusiastic about reading aloud when they do so to a specially designed robot, psychologists have found.

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison built the robot, named Minnie, as a “reading buddy” to children aged 10 to 12.

Over two weeks children became more excited about books and attached to the robot. “After one interaction the kids were generally telling us that it was nice to have someone to read with,” Joseph Michaelis, who led the study, said.

By the end of two weeks they’re talking about how the robot was funny and silly and how they’d come home looking forward to seeing it.”

The research, published in the journal Science Robotics, is the latest in the effort to design machines that may augment learning or provide companionship.

In America, a robot with artificial intelligence acts as a “social mediator” for autistic children, allowing them to communicate with the wider world.

Minnie stayed with study subjects for two weeks.

Minnie, which is 33cm (13in) high, tracked the children’s progress in reading and every few pages reacted with a programmed comment. During a frightening chapter, for instance, it could say: “Oh, wow, I’m really scared.”

It also recommended books, taking into account ability and interests, and most said that it made good choices.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

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