Tuesday, 12 February 2019 11:36

Start-up Ikkiworks develops robot to help sick kids

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Sydney-based start-up Ikkiworks has developed a companion robot designed to help soothe and monitor the vital signs of sick children while they are at home and away from hospital.

Developed with support from the NSW Government-backed Jobs for NSW, the robot, called "ikki", has been developed with input from staff, patients and their families at Westmead Children’s Hospital.

Ikkiworks has also been supported with a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product grant from Jobs for NSW to help refine its ikki prototype by making it more robust for use with children.

Jobs for NSW chief executive Nicole Cook said: “Ikkiworks is a fantastic example of the great health technology that is being developed here in NSW and how our range of support products, including grants, assists start-ups and fast growing SMEs to succeed.”

Ikkiworks co-founder Clive McFarland said ikki monitors the vital signs of sick children — such as those who are undergoing cancer treatment — when they are away from hospital while also providing a soothing companion.

“ikki has some amazing abilities. It monitors medication, measures temperature using infrared, it reminds families when medication is due and registers that it's the correct medicine being given,” Dr McFarland said.

“It can warn families if a child is getting a temperature which can be very dangerous in young patients with suppressed immune systems. The clinical team can also monitor the temperature and medication data online and adjust the treatment regime accordingly.

“ikki is also a great companion.  Parents can record songs and stories and ikki plays them back on cue. If a child talks to ikki it will talk back in its own ikki language.

“Also, if a child is feeling anxious ikki can help soothe them. ikki’s head lights up and the child can blow it out like a candle which helps with breath calming. But most importantly, ikki empowers the child by giving them a key role in their own treatment.”

 McFarland said Ikkiworks plans a larger trial of its ikki robot, and believes its technology has the potential to be adapted to assist in a wide range of situations, including patients with chronic illnesses, people undergoing rehabilitation, and the elderly.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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