Meet the world’s first emotionally intelligent hospital robot helping kids in LA

A robot named Robin is helping make visits to the dentist more fun and comfortable for kids in Los Angeles. UCLA was the first hospital in the country to acquire Robin the Robot last summer- the world’s first emotionally intelligent hospital robot.

Now, a local pediatric dental practice is the first in the country to have Robin.

COVID has taken away the toys, books and the common things you would normally find inside a dental practice. But now, this nearly 4-foot-tall touch-less interactive robot will greet you in the waiting room.

It's no secret usually a trip to the dentist isn't something most kids look forward to, but thanks to Robin the Robot that's changing.

"Robin breaks the ice between us and they become a little bit more comfortable," said Dr. Zaruhi Hakobyan, dentist, ABC Kids Dental Group.

"He talks about their school, their favorite color, why they are here, building a relationship with the children and having them forget that they are at the dental office," explainedEspy Sosa, Operational Manager for ABC Kids Dental Group. 

It's also about minimizing the stress and putting a smile on these little faces. Robin speaks, talks back, plays games and can even recognize a child's emotions by analyzing and interpreting facial expressions.

"Robin makes kids feel really safe and comfortable, he is great on the way out because he makes kids excited to do through the dental treatment," said Hakobyan.

In addition, Robin can also speak multiple languages. 

"At first parents were shocked to see someone speak to them, and interact so well. Robin is trilingual -- he speaks Spanish, English and Armenian," said Sosa. 

Robin was created by scientists in Armenia to help children in hospitals mitigate stress and anxiety through playful interaction.

"They’re a little bit more excited when they get into the chair — they say 'I talked to Robin' and our conversation starts out with that versus them being sacred there is a doctor in front of them," said Hakobyan.

The kids loved Robin so much that after trying Robin out at the Sun Valley branch last summer, ABC Kids Dental Group decided to introduce Robin to the Pacoima and Granada Hills locations.

But before Robin arrived at the dental clinic, he was busy cheering up pediatric patients at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, during the height of the pandemic when everything, including visitors, were limited. It was a trying time and Robin proved to be an essential resource in bringing children comfort.

"When kids come back after months and say Robin remembered me and it is exciting for them to come back," said Hakobyan.

"The children say will you be my best friend? it just melts your heart, as mom, as the manager there and as an employee, how sweet and how innocent the children are when they are with Robin. They just really build a relationship," said Sosa. 

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