My Special Aflac Duck Wins ‘Tech for a Better World’ Award

Aflac reveals a robotic companion for children who have cancer, called My Special Aflac Duck, during CES Unveiled in Las Vegas on Sunday, Jan. 7th, 2018. Photo by Tami Nguyen / BU News Service.

LAS VEGAS — Aflac, the insurance company, won the CES 2018 ‘Tech for a Better World” award for its robotic companion for children who have cancer, the My Special Aflac Duck.

A part of Aflac’s ongoing Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign, My Special Aflac Duck was developed by Sproutel, featuring “naturalistic movements and joyful play to help distract children coping with cancer.” The idea is to use the robot as a smart comforting companion that helps children feel less alone when they are undergoing cancer treatment. The robot is interactive with a web-based app that uses augmented reality, helping the smart companion emulate the child’s moods, and mirror their routines including dances, quacks and nuzzles.

“On average, childhood cancer treatment lasts more than 1,000 days, and we thought there must be something we can do to help alleviate some of the burdens,” said Aaron J. Horowitz, CEO and co-founder of Sproutel in a press release. Sproutel is also the developer of Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion that helps kids with diabetes manage their health.

“We designed My Special Aflac Duck to help provide comfort and joy through engaging play. Most importantly, we want to empower children by giving them a friend who can help them express their emotions. We are excited to work with Aflac, whose commitment to children with cancer has been incredibly inspiring.”

Aflac brought a real duck at the launch of the robotic duck.

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