Robo-Teddy Comes To The Aid of Sick Children

Boston Children’s Hospital and M.I.T. have recently collaborated to create a robotic teddy bear capable of revolutionizing the face of children’s toys and pediatric care. It's called "Huggable," a “high-tech puppet” capable of interacting with sick children through play and speech with a simple remote control. Huggable is currently part of a developing program with 90 children at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his future looks bright.

According to Dr. Peter Weinstock, director of the children's training program, an increase in the levels of happiness in children has a big effect on healing, and thus inventors hope that the reassuring presence of an interactive teddy bear will help “alleviate anxiety, pain, and isolation for children in a hospital.”

“We think a lot about heart rate, blood pressure, and how much oxygen is in the blood, but we don’t have a great monitor for how the child is feeling right now,” said Weinstock. Huggable is intended to “adapt to changing situations and emotional scenarios” to help children feel better faster.

At this point, the hospital has invested a half million dollars in social robotics research, which includes the Huggable program. Children in the study are closely monitored for physiological changes to determine whether or not Huggable is working as expected. Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, leader of the personal robots group at M.I.T.’s Media Lab, believes if all goes well, this could someday become a standard of care. “It’s not only the health and emotional and recovery benefits, but also logistical and financial, improving efficiency to the overall health system,” she said. When this loveable bear will actually be hitting the shelves, or hospital beds, is still in question.

[h/t: New York Times]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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