A FUTURISTIC therapy treatment is now available in Shepparton with GV Health recently purchasing a friendly form of artificial intelligence.
Dubbed NAO, the humanoid robot stands at just 58cm tall and came at a cost of $33,000 which includes specialised programming and training of staff. The funds have been raised through help from several local Freemason groups (GV St George Lodge, Rupertswood Numurkah Lodge, Mooroopna Lodge, United Freemasons and Goulburn Murray Masonic Club), Bendigo Bank’s Connected Communities initiative and through GV Health’s Give Me 5 For Kids appeal.
NAO will be utilised across the whole hospital, but will primarily be used for those on the autism spectrum and in the paediatric ward.
NAO houses tactile sensors, microphones, speakers, cameras, sonar and hands, all that are used to interact in a human-like manner with patients.
GV Health clinical psychologist, Catherine Kelly said, “We are hoping to use NAO across the whole hospital.
“The robot is so engaging. For young people with problems in engagement, it will help to break down the barriers.
“It has taken two years to raise the funds and we are looking forward to seeing what NAO can do.”
NAO technician, Jonathan Kingsley said, “NAO is designed and manufactured in Paris and can be designed for just about anything.
“It is endearing and engaging, particularly for children because of its size.
“Those on the spectrum, are highly sensitive to very minute changes in facial features and body language and the size and nature of the robot comes across as less threatening.
“We created the first version in 2004, and this is version 5 of NAO. A lot of work has gone into it to get it to where it is now.”