I am no expert on Autism. All information herein was taken from the lecture on 1/10/15 at the Robotics Society of Southern California meeting, recorded in the videos linked to at the bottom of this post.
Hanson Robotics visualizes a world where robots can help to care for Autistic children. Current treatment for Autism recommends that a child be with a trained therapist for 40 hours a week for 2 years. Doing this will greatly increase the capabilities of the child and possibly alleviate the need for care for the rest of his/her life.
That makes it worthwhile to invest in a high end, emotion-expressive robot with lifelike face and skin texture. The skin is made possible through a new, patented material called Frubber (not Flubber, the subject of a Robin Willams, Walt Disney movie). I touched it, and it is smooth, a little cool to the touch.
It is a very niche market, and Hanson Robotics is poised for it.
As CEO Jong Lee informed us, there will be an unveiling of their new competitor product to the NAO robot which is currently being used for Autism research (among other types of research) at a convention in Germany this week. Under 10K it will be more expressive, and one would imagine also very frubbery.
Looking forward to new toys!
Club members Thomas Messerschmitt (Riverside Robotics Club), Bob Barboza (Kidz Talk radio), Walter Martinez (Robotics ++, Robotics City), Trish Tsoiasue (Handmade Penguin, Makersville) and Hanson Robotics CEO Jong Lee.