A bot babysitter for lonely kids

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Shanghai: It speaks two languages, gives math lessons, tells jokes and interacts with children through the tablet screen in its chest — China’s latest robot is the babysitter every parent needs.

The “iPal” was among a slew of new tech unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show Asia in Shanghai, offering education and company for lonely children and peace of mind for adults.

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

Parents can also remotely talk to and monitor the children through the iPal, which is linked to a smartphone app that allows them to see and hear everything.

“The idea for this robot is to be a companion for children,” said Tingyu Huang, co-founder of AvatarMind Robot Technology.

“When a child sees it, he or she will think of the robot as a friend, as another child in the family.” Their $1,400 did not dampen interest from buyers watching a performance of several iPals dancing in unison.

“They’re pretty cute. I was just thinking my own twoyear-old daughter would love one,” Mike Stone, a buyer from Australia said. 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 onechild policy lingers.

Agencies

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