‘Ikki’ the Kids' Companion Robot, and the Changing Face of Healthcare – Hope 103.2

‘Ikki’ the Kids’ Companion Robot, and the Changing Face of Healthcare

For children, being stuck in hospital can be an alienating experience. That's why scientists have designed Ikki: a “companion therapy robot” for kids.

By Duncan RobinsonThursday 26 Jul 2018Hope BreakfastHealth and WellbeingReading Time: 2 minutes

Listen: Sam and Duncan chat to Seaton McKeon about Ikki the Kids’ Companion Therapy Robot

For kids, being stuck in hospital with an injury or an illness can be an alienating experience.

I’ve been in the emergency ward three times with my son (he’s a master at injuring himself!) and watched what it’s like for kids being cared for by so many strangers.

You have various people in white coats coming in to take measurements, and using big words to describe your situation. Sometimes they are animated and happy, other times there is a really serious look on their faces.

Nurses are busily tending to your needs and ensuring that regular medicine is taken.

They are all friendly people, but there is something lacking: as a child, you have no say in the process. Kids have no control in their own health care. And that’s especially disempowering for those with long-term illness, such as cancer.

That’s where the new invention, Ikki, comes in.

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Developed by scientists at Ikki Works, in conjunction with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, “Ikki” is the name of a “companion therapy robot” designed for children.

It’s a small, colourful device shaped a little like a small version of the Star Wars character R2D2, and it helps kids to play a role in their own health care process.

In a chat with us on the Breakfast show, Seaton McKeon, the design director at Ikki Works, explained that when a patient has some ownership in their medical care, it plays an important part in the healing process.

Ikki was made on this basis.

It can help children maintain their own medicine-taking schedule, and takes crucial readings such as temperature. It reminds kids about steps they have to take in their health care, can act as a soothing night light, and can even calm and distract children if needed, with calming and breathing exercises. And because it’s small and colourful, it’s like a little pet that kids can take anywhere.

In our chat we talked about changes in the health care industry, and we even had a conversation with “Ikki” himself, the star of the show.

To hear the full chat, listen using the audio player above.