About the solution
Jean-Max Dumond’s son suffers from selective mutism, which impedes him from communicating properly in social settings.
To help his son, Dumond created a robot with parts recovered from electronic devices such as televisions and radios. He then used paper mache on the face of the robot and PVC, a lightweight plastic used in construction, for the different body parts of the robot.
"I wanted to make this robot first because of the situation of my son: he is three years old and speaks very little, he does not speak, even at school it is difficult to snatch him a few words... He tended to respond with gestures rather than words, but we do not have the means to take him to see a specialist, so it's not possible for us to diagnose him" said Dumond.
The robot also has a speaker inside, which connected through Bluetooth and programmed with the sound bank of Google Now.
"I had noticed that he had a tendency to speak with Google's voice recognition tool, I'm passionate about new technologies and robotics, so I set out to create a robot with which he could interact... Took me two months to make it", said Dumond.
The robot costed around 52 euros to build.
"Two other families contacted me because their children also have problems expressing themselves. I am unfortunately not an early childhood doctor, and therefore I am not able to create robots adapted to the needs of their children. ... but what is certain is that there are needs here in Haiti because specialists are expensive, a speech therapist costs an average of thirty euros per hour in Port-au-Prince, and there are little specialists", said Dumond.
Dumond says the robot has helped his son open up to others. "I see a lot of improvement in my son, we use the robot to ask him questions, and encourage him to answer. For us, it is very clear that he has made progress, and speaks much more with humans since he has this robot It's hard to really evaluate what it's changed for him, but he's less introverted than before", he said.
Apart from French, one of the main languages in Haiti is Creole, which unfortunately is not available at the sound bank of Google Now.
For the future, Dumond would like to build more efficient robots and help other people.
Adapted from: http://bit.ly/2K7Urh6
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Man builds app to help his speech impaired friend to communicate