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‘Babysitter’ robot iPal gives maths lessons, tells jokes and keeps China’s lonely children company

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‘Babysitter’ robot iPal gives maths lessons, tells jokes and keeps China’s lonely children company

Parents in China are handing over babysitting duties to robots.

The £1,050 ($1,400) ‘iPal’ speaks two languages, gives maths lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through a tablet screen in its chest.

Engineers designed the device to act like a four to eight-year-old, becoming an extra child in the family that also helps ‘relieve the burden’ felt by China’s busy parents.

The android offers education and company for lonely children and peace of mind for adults, who can remotely talk to and monitor their child through iPal’s screen.

A smartphone app directly links parents to the humanoid machine, allowing them to see and hear everything in iPal’s vicinity.

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The £1,050 ($1,400) 'iPal' speaks two languages, gives maths lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through a tablet screen in its chest. The robot was among a slew of new tech unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia in Shanghai this week (pictured)

The £1,050 ($1,400) 'iPal' speaks two languages, gives maths lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through a tablet screen in its chest. The robot was among a slew of new tech unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia in Shanghai this week (pictured)

The £1,050 ($1,400) ‘iPal’ speaks two languages, gives maths lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through a tablet screen in its chest. The robot was among a slew of new tech unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia in Shanghai this week (pictured)

The robot was among a slew of new tech unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia in Shanghai this week.

‘The idea for this robot is to be a companion for children,’ said Tingyu Huang, co-founder of AvatarMind Robot Technology, based in China’s eastern city of Nanjing.

‘When a child sees it, he or she will think of the robot as a friend, as another child in the family.’

The humanoid device stands as tall as a five-year-old, moves and dances on wheels and its eyes keep track of its charges through facial recognition technology. 

Buyers at CES watched a performance of several iPals dancing in unison at the event.

‘They’re pretty cute. I was just thinking my own two-year-old daughter would love one,’ Mike Stone, a buyer from Australia said.

Chinese company AvatarMind has developed a robotic babysitter that takes on the responsibilities of an adult

Chinese company AvatarMind has developed a robotic babysitter that takes on the responsibilities of an adult

The £1,050 ($1,400) ‘iPal’ speaks two languages, gives maths lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through a tablet screen in its chest

China’s young working parents often face the burden of taking care of children or elders without help from a large extended family, as the impact of the country’s decades-long one-child policy lingers.

The limit was raised to two children in 2016.

‘I don’t think the robots can replace parents or teachers,’ Huang said. ‘But iPal can be a complementary tool to relieve some of their burden.’

The humanoid device stands as tall as a five-year-old, moves and dances on wheels and its eyes keep track of its charges through facial recognition technology. Buyers at CES watched a performance of several iPals dancing in unison at the event (pictured)

The humanoid device stands as tall as a five-year-old, moves and dances on wheels and its eyes keep track of its charges through facial recognition technology. Buyers at CES watched a performance of several iPals dancing in unison at the event (pictured)

The humanoid device stands as tall as a five-year-old, moves and dances on wheels and its eyes keep track of its charges through facial recognition technology. Buyers at CES watched a performance of several iPals dancing in unison at the event (pictured)

The android offers education and company for lonely children and peace of mind for adults, who can remotely talk to and monitor their child through iPal's screen 

The android offers education and company for lonely children and peace of mind for adults, who can remotely talk to and monitor their child through iPal's screen 

The android offers education and company for lonely children and peace of mind for adults, who can remotely talk to and monitor their child through iPal’s screen 

WHAT IS CHINA’S ‘BABYSITTER’ ROBOT THE IPAL?

Chinese company AvatarMind has developed a robotic babysitter that takes on the responsibilities of an adult.

The ‘iPal’ is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child.

The three-foot (90cm) humanoid has a touch screen tablet on its chest and can communicate in two languages.

Its in-built screen provides live surveillance and video chat via a smartphone app to ease the mind of absent parents. 

The 'iPal' is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child

The 'iPal' is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child

The ‘iPal’ is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child

iPal moves and dances on wheels and its eyes keep track of its charges through facial recognition technology.

The robot can also read your child stories, play games and offers software that teaches them how to do basic programming.

It features a Children Messenger app that lets kids connect with others who have an iPal.

Engineers designed the device to act like an extra child in the family and help ‘relieve the burden’ felt by China’s busy parents.

Although iPal could provide a glimpse into the future of childcare, it raises questions about the consequences of using robots to raise children.

‘Robots are a great educational tool for children,’ Noel Sharkey, a professor emeritus of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield told The Guardian.

‘It inspires them to learn about science and engineering. But there are significant dangers in having robots mind our children.

The 'iPal' is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child 

The 'iPal' is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child 

The ‘iPal’ is designed to help educate children and keep them company by interacting like a four to eight-year-old child 

The child-like robot is designed to keep children ages three to eight busy for 'a few hours' without adult supervision

The child-like robot is designed to keep children ages three to eight busy for 'a few hours' without adult supervision

The child-like robot is designed to keep children ages three to eight busy for ‘a few hours’ without adult supervision

‘They do not have the sensitivity or understanding needed for childcare. It cannot replace a babysitter, but it is a social robot.’

China’s robot market is also catching onto needs from a growing population of elderly ’empty nesters’ who prefer to grow old at home rather than at a nursing home.

AvatarMind will soon launch another robot that can talk to seniors, remind them to take their pills and call the hospital when they fall.

The robot can also read your child stories, play games and offers software that teaches them how to do basic programming. It also features a Children Messenger app that lets kids connect with others who have an iPal

The robot can also read your child stories, play games and offers software that teaches them how to do basic programming. It also features a Children Messenger app that lets kids connect with others who have an iPal

The robot can also read your child stories, play games and offers software that teaches them how to do basic programming. It also features a Children Messenger app that lets kids connect with others who have an iPal

Beijing has invested money and manpower in developing AI as part of its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan.

A Chinese firm unveiled the country’s first human-like robot, which can hold simple conversations and make facial expressions, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last year.

The iPal is the latest humanoid robot to be marketed for family use, following in the footsteps of the diminutive, wisecracking ‘Pepper’ companion released by Japan’s SoftBank in 2015. 

Source: MailOnline | Copyright © MailOnline, All Rights Reserved

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