The Best Inventions of 2021
November 10, 2021 6:08 AM EST

When an 8-year-old pneumonia patient at a clinic in Armenia had barely eaten for two days, the medical staff brought a new face into her room: Robin the Robot. After about 20 minutes of discussing favorite animals and playing a game of I Spy, Robin said goodbye, vowing to return only if the patient promised to eat. Sure enough, she dug in. With big, googly eyes and a cheerful personality, Robin is an AI-based companion designed to ease anxiety and loneliness among children in hospitals and clinics. “The goal was to create a technology that’s not just a device—but a peer and friend,” says entrepreneur Karen Khachikyan, Robin’s proud parent. The robot is like a real-life Pixar character that can recognize a child’s emotions and respond based on stored memory, even explaining medical procedures in a simple way. Robin is being used in 12 facilities worldwide and is set to be deployed in another 100 in the U.S. over the next 12 months. —Nik Popli

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