Our study investigates the advantages of using soft robots to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder develop social skills focusing on speech. We designed a soft robot utilizing mechanical motion and sound input to appeal to our target users to help improve their speech development and social engagement disabilities.
Our final soft robot design is a Fish body exterior with customizable options for the child to choose and make the robot their own. The exterior will be made of a soft material called Veltex that will allow the removing and adding of features to be simple cause it acts similar to the soft side of Velcro. Adding this level of customization between different fins, facial features, and tails the child will already be more attached and engaged with the robot before being prompted to speak to see it move. The kinetic movement for the robot is that it moves at a faster pace on a pre-determined path when the vocal level is above the threshold and will twitch back and forth when it’s below that. The phone application has the interface of one button for the child to press and then hold it up to their ear as if talking on the phone to record the sound input. The application also has an input for the therapist to change the threshold to increase the desired sound level as the child progresses in vocal skills. The children will be able to watch their customized robot move around the room and interact to their verbal skills.