App for iPad being developed to assist children with autism practice life skills [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Pohla Smith provides an update on the latest developments at Interbots, including a new Popchilla iPad App based on the Spark-supported Character Therapy project.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Pohla Smith revisited the Interbots team behind Character Therapy, a Spark project that used Popchilla, an interactive, emotive robot to engage young children with autism in therapeutic games.

Interbots is now at work on an App for iPad to assist children with autism:

First came Popchilla, a blue big-eared robot designed to enable children with autism to recognize emotions in the robot and themselves. Now there’s Popchilla’s World, an iPad app designed to help those children practice life skills.

Both were created by Interbots, a spinoff company from the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center.

With the app, Popchilla guides the children through life skills such as brushing their teeth or saying hello.

“The idea in general is to help them learn daily routines and social interactions they have to use throughout life on a daily basis,” said Interbots CEO Seema Patel. “So for right now we’re developing new activities like taking a shower, asking for help — lots of stuff — getting ready for school.”

Smith had previously reported on Popchilla’s use at the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, as part of Character Therapy, project supported through a Micro Spark grant.

You can help Interbots continue their important work by donating to Popchilla’s World via

Photo credit: Bob Donaldson for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Published April 09, 2012