Social Robotics & Autism



"‘Milo’, a humanoid robot, is all set to transform the life of children with autism in the Middle East through its specialized educational programs and unique gestures."

"Experts have found hat Robots can help children with autism in ways humans cannot. A therapist working along with the humanoid robot is able to get the children’s attention and engagement, and help them develop basic skills."

"What Milo does is it extends the educator’s ability and help reduce the cost of high-quality instruction. In a one -on-one lesson, Milo records answers as well as reactions, which the educator or therapist can access via the reporting interface."

(Al Arabiya English)



Image via Tharawat

Canberra's Backyard Experiment



Using colours, paint, lighting, lightweight tables and chairs, designers (and volunteering passersby) in Canberra turned a place people "generally detest" into an appealing place that makes people stop and hang out there. Their changes dramatically changed the way people engage in space.

"The number of people walking through the plaza nearly tripled in the eight days of the experiment, which took place in mid-October. But before it began, 97 percent of all people in the area walked through without stopping, and nearly all of them were adults under 64 years old."

"When the new features were added, the number of people stopping to hang out in the area shot up 247 percent, and it wasn’t just adults taking a seat as they passed by. More couples and friends lingered in the plaza, as did more seniors, families, and children. This was a key goal behind the project: Garema Place is known more for its weekend nightlife than for being welcoming to families. The researchers credit that change to the wide mix of interventions, including art and color, wi-fi access, physical and digital libraries, freely moveable furniture, and the community collaboration that went into redesigning the area."

(CityLab)

Melbourne Pushes for Gender Equality



Melbourne is installing ten pedestrian crossing lights depicting a woman in a dress instead of "the usual male figure" in order to reduce unconscious bias. This is sparking a debate, of course.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)

London introduced similar changes during Pride Week last year (with some of the temporary traffic lights becoming permanent), the German city of Zwickau in 2004 (more).
"Some people have expressed a little scepticism wondering whether it's gesture politics rather than having any real substance. But these symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 per cent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights." Martine Letts
"There are many small — but symbolically significant — ways that women are excluded from public space." Fiona Richardson
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Photograph via RTE

An Ancient Matrilineal Society in New Mexico



"Following a recent dig, archaeologists found that New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon was home to a matrilineal society -- one that saw power descend through maternal family lines -- between the 9th to mid-12th centuries.

Publishing their results in the journal Nature, archaeologists came to this conclusion by studying nine individuals buried in the largest house in the canyon Pueblo Bonito.

Thousands of ancient indigenous Americans worked in and lived in this 650-room building, each building of which had a different use. In this study, archaeologists assessed Room 33, a royal burial chamber." (ati)

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image via International Business Times

Wheelchair Accessible Garden Kit



The Suitecase is a group of architects and artists that created the TERRAform program for wheelchair accessible gardens.

Read the full article here

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via Universal Design Style (Photo: TERRAform)

Harper’s Playground



"Soon after her birth, Cody Goldberg’s daughter Harper was diagnosed with a condition that would require her to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. As Harper grew, Goldberg soon realized that a lot of everyday things alienate children with disabilities, keeping them from experiencing the same things as their families and friends. But what really stood out to Goldberg — is playgrounds — he says in a talk at TEDxPortland."

Read the full article here

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Photograph by Cody Goldberg

Intelligent Wearable Strength: A Smart Suit for Senior Citizens Who Have Trouble with Mobility



"Wearable tech is often geared toward the super-fit or the able-bodied, whether it’s tracking intense activities or your basic daily step count, but one company in Silicon Valley is focusing instead on building a “smart” suit for the aging population.

Superflex, a Menlo Park, California-based startup that’s just coming out of stealth mode, says it’s working on sensor-equipped, computer-controlled clothing for senior citizens who have trouble with mobility. The suit’s sensors are supposed to be able to track the posture and movement of the body, and rapidly process data to send a motor “assist” when the wearer is leaning forward in a chair, getting ready to stand up, or even starting to raise their arms above their head."

(The Verge)

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Photograph via The Verge

Luke Calder's Borderless Globe



New Zealand designer Luke Calder imagines a globe without artificial borders and limitations, without definitions of nations and oceans. The "minimalist and poetic design" combines an aluminium structure with resin and copper foil (Ufunk).

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Photograph via designboom