by Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Featured at CES 2017, Leka, an innovative toy designed by a French startup has emerged as a modern, educational yet fun play robot.
Leka is specifically designed to cater for the developmental needs of children with autism or other developmental disorders learn, play and progress.
The spherical toy has features that allow it to move around, change colours, play music, and give off subtle vibrations. Also on it is a screen that displays images, videos, icons and emoticons. All these motivate, engage and develop children through play.
One of its important features, the Monitoring Platform (coming in 2018), captures progressive data using the sensors which then can be given to parents, caretakers and therapists, for further studies to help exception children. The sensors monitor how a child’s reaction time to instructions, how the device is manipulated and how much time is spent on an activity, apart from other things.
The mind of an autistic child works differently than others. According to Autism Speaks, people with autism prove to show great difficulties in communication and social interaction; and have a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviour. But their symptoms and severity vary through these three core areas.
Leka hopes to improve these challenges through educational activities. Currently it has seven educational activities planned for it: Alarm Clock, Hide & Go Leka, Night Light, Picture Bingo, Remote Control Leka, and Travelling Leka. These games although simple, help children develop particular skills such as cognitive, motor, sensory, communication and social interaction.
The robotic toy works using its companion app (available to iOS and Android) and controlled via Bluetooth.
So far there are positive reviews by parents and caretakers of exceptional children.
One mother of an exceptional child, Valerie Beatson, said “What’s great about Leka is that my son immediately connected with this robot; this ball that was running around and coming back to him, and responding to his call.”
And Digital Trends reports Tiffany Plock, a therapist at ABA Connect, saying “Children with autism, for example, generally play best alone, and through Leka we can use it as an intermediary to teach through play while also tracking progress remotely. I see this tool as becoming instrumental in a child’s growth to allow the best of both worlds — therapy with professionals as well as in-home support.”
Co-founders, Ladislas de Toldi and Marine Couteau, hope for Leka to reach exceptional children all around the world and help them live exceptional lives. More research and studies are being taken for far better improvements and enhancements.