Born in 2006, it's been constantly evolving to "please, amuse, understand and love you. In short, to one day become your friend." A robot that can love? A.I. anyone?
NAO has been making quite a stir in the education world, both as a teaching tool and classroom assistant. It's been used in 70 different countries at all levels of education and it's fully programmable to meet the needs of it's target audience. Classrooms have integrated this little bot into STEM curriculums to promote hands-on, interactive learning which in turn gets students excited about these important subjects.
I'm currently writing a Research Digest piece on a study that introduced NAO into a classroom of preschoolers to measure its effectiveness as a classroom assistant. In the study, NAO was loaded with KindSAR software, a modified version of the SAR application, that is appropriate for the age-group and setting.
"Kindergarten Social Assistive Robotics (KindSAR) is an application of social assistive technology for educational purposes, concentrating initially on preschool education. KindSAR is an assistive robotic technology that offers kindergarten educational staff a novel educational tool based on social interaction. The primary purpose of KindSAR is to provide assistance to the staff by engaging the children in educational games. The technology potentially provides a valuable contribution to the existing repertoire of tools for children's cognitive and social development. "
NAO was then introduced to 10 students aged 3-4 years old in a controlled setting. It told them a story, complete with emotion (bodily and vocally), asked questions to get the students engaged, and even sang to them. The students responded positively to the bot, treated it as an authority figure, and "successfully promoted children's emotional involvement in the learning process."
"NAO brings special education learning into the 21st century thanks to a package solution called ASK NAO, specially developed to assist teachers with daily requirements while being an educational tool and friend for the kids."Essentially, this little guy is the edtech toy! As researchers in education technology, EdLab definitely needs one of these, yes?