Wearables and other forms of new health tech for children are typically adult-facing devices. Parents, caregivers, or medical professionals understand, set up, and access data from the devices. The children benefit from and use the technology, but do not engage with it for the most part. We’ve written about eye-tracking tech to help understand language development in children and wireless vital sign monitoring for use with kids – among other products – all used or set up by adults.

Sproutel partners with sponsoring companies to develop patient-centered companion robots that engage with children who have specific diseases and conditions. Sproutel and Aflac created My Very Special Aflac Duck, a smart, interactive toy designed to engage and comfort children newly diagnosed with cancer. The duck’s initial testing took place at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The companion duck uses interactive technology and a web-based app with which the children can play as well as mirror their own care routines with augmented reality during childhood cancer’s average 1,000 plus day duration.

Aflac aims to distribute My Very Special Aflac Ducks to each of the almost 16,000 children who develop cancer in the U.S. each year. Distribution is scheduled to start in the winter of 2018/2019. The duck follows Jerry the Bear, a robotic toy with an accompanying app for children with Type I diabetes. Sproutel currently is developing robot companions for children with food allergies and asthma, plus a companion product helps children learn the long-term impact of diet.