The robot Abel is coming, capable of interacting with empathy with patients suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders and with dementia. The startup, Emotiva, has in fact announced that it has partnered with the “Enrico Piaggio” Research Center of the University of Pisa to create Abel, a humanoid able to empathically relate to patients suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodivergence. Specifically, for patients no longer able to verbalize, with problems of understanding and expression of emotions – such as, for example, behavioral disorders and autism spectrum disorders – Abel breaks down the barriers of communication through a deep socio-emotional involvement. Andrea Sempi of Emotiva sees an obvious advantage from this collaboration: “Emotiva and the research team of the ‘Enrico Piaggio’ Center share a common vision to improve human-machine interaction by building a tool that helps us to better understand cognitive and emotional human “. But the Abel project goes beyond the recognition of emotions. Abel can indeed support a rapidly growing 21st century health challenge: dementia. Today 55 million people worldwide are affected by dementia. By 2050, this number will have nearly tripled to 152 million, or 1 in 85 (WHO). “Using his ability to learn and show empathy, Abel will be an effective tool to help improve care for people with dementia, bridging communication gaps and providing another form of support to caregivers and family members,” explains Lorenzo Cominelli. Post-doctoral researcher at the Research Center The humanoid continuously improves its empathic abilities and bidirectional interactions, learning to read and extract emotions by reacting appropriately, thanks to the emotion classification system developed by Emotiva, explain the researchers . One of the great challenges of the project is that relating to the pathology of dementia: Abel’s empathic skills will improve patient care by bridging communication gaps and providing support to family caregivers, assure the scholars.
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