Glasgow, Oct 10 : A robot which encourages kids to wash their hands has helped pupils at a remote Indian primary school take a new approach to hygiene.
According to a release, the hand-shaped robot, dubbed 'Pepe,' is the product of a collaboration between researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in India.
Pepe was mounted to the wall above a hand washing station at the Wayanad Government Primary School in Kerala, which has around 100 pupils in the five to 10 years age group. A small video screen mounted behind Pepe’s green plastic exterior acted as a 'mouth,' allowing researchers to tele-operate the robot to speak to the pupils and draw their attention to a poster outlining the steps of effective hand washing. A set of moving 'eyes' helped the illusion that Pepe was paying attention to the childrens’ actions.
The robot helps pupils to wash their hands more effectively and more consistently, boosting their rates of hand washing by 40%. Pupils spent on average twice as long to wash their hands after Pepe’s arrival. After the intervention, more than 95% of the students could correctly determine when hand washing with soap has to be done - before a meal and after a visit to the toilet.
The outcomes from the research project will be presented on Global Handwashing Day (Tuesday, October 15) at the 28th Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication in New Delhi. (UNI)