Meet Leka, a rolling robot that can be programmed to engage with children that have developmental disabilities.
Described by its designers as “a robotic companion,” the roly-poly Leka robot is shaped like a ball, has an endearing “face” that changes expressions, and uses sound, light and colors to interact with users through customizable games that improve cognitive and motor skills. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), connecting with others and interpreting social cues can be enormously challenging. ASD describes a collection of neurodevelopmental disorders relating to communication difficulties and characterized by repetitive behaviors, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
To determine how interactive technology might help children with ASD and other developmental disabilities, Leka’s creators worked closely with educators, parents and children to determine their needs, researching in particular the role that robotics could play.