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Keio-NUS CUTE Centre Invents World's First Social Networking Robot for Children

03 June 2009

PETIMO: Children playing with the robotic toy
Children as young as seven years old will have the opportunity to experience a safe and fun online social environment with the world's first interactive virtual and real world robot, developed by a team led by Associate Professor Adrian Cheok from the Keio-NUS CUTE Centre.

At its prototype state, Petimo already shows great potential. Responsive to touch and movements, the robot also showcased a range of advanced technological capabilities as a future mobile networking device for children. Assoc Prof Cheok says: "This is just the start of what the robot can do. More features are being added as we speak. These include touch-screen functionality, various types of covers or skins for the outer finish of the robot for diverse personalisation and personality, as well as a whole range of applications that include games and intuitive features like 3-G technology and more."

In fact, some of these highly interactive enhancements will be added to the prototype Petimo which will be showcased in Italy come 3 to 5 June 2009. Already selected by an international review panel as one of the best three submissions for the Como for Children (C4C) design competition held at The 8th International conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC 2009), this is Petimo's debut in Europe.

Emphasis on Petimo's creative design was to ensure that all physical properties, emotions, virtual gifts and many more robotic interactions are well-suited to children. In virtual form, the robot enters Petimo-World, its virtual realm. To add friends on it, a physical meet between two robots and its owners must take place and parents act as gate-keepers via Petimo-World's parent authentication module.

Together, Petimo and Petimo-World is a new mediator in cultivating positive social behaviour and better familiarisation to computing environments among young growing minds.