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Raspberry Pi robot prompts proper handwashing

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Amol Deshmukh from the University of Glasgow got in touch with us about a social robot designed to influence young people’s handwashing behaviour, which the design team piloted in a rural school in Kerala, India.

In the pilot study, the hand-shaped Pepe robot motivated a 40% increase in the quality and levels of handwashing. It was designed by AMMACHI Labs and University of Glasgow researchers, with a Raspberry Pi serving as its brain and powering the screens that make up its mouth and eyes.

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How does Pepe do it?

The robot is very easy to attach to the wall next to a handwashing station and automatically detects approaching people. Using AI software, it encourages, monitors, and gives verbal feedback to children on their handwashing, all in a fun and engaging way.

Amol thinks the success of the robot was due to its eye movements, as people change their behaviour when they know they are being observed. A screen displaying a graphical mouth also meant the robot could show it was happy when the children washed their hands correctly; positive feedback such as this promotes learning new skills.

Amol’s team started work on this idea last year, and they were keen to test the Pepe robot with a group of people who had never been exposed to social robots before. They presented their smiling hand-face hybrid creation at the IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (see photo below). And now that hand washing has become more important than ever due to coronavirus, the project is getting mainstream media attention as well.

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What’s next?

The team is now planning to improve Pepe’s autonomous intelligence and scale up the intervention across more schools through the Embracing the World network.

Pepe had a promising trial run, as shown by these stats from the University of Glasgow’s story on the pilot study:

  • More than 90% of the students liked the robot and said they would like to see Pepe again after school vacation.
  • 67% of the respondents thought the robot was male, while 33% thought it was female, mostly attributing to the robot’s voice as the reason
  • 60% said it was younger than them, feeling Pepe was like a younger brother or sister, while 33% thought it was older, and 7% perceived the robot to be of the same age
  • 72% of the students thought Pepe was alive, largely due to its ability to talk

Website: LINK

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What do you think?


Written by Maria Richter

Years Of MembershipContent Author

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