Bahraini Engineering Students Build Revolutionary Nanny Robot

A nanny robot that teaches children colors, shapes, letters and numbers has been built by a team of three female students from Bahrain University. The computer engineering graduates designed the Nanny Bot in a bid to address issues related to the human element in preschool education and submitted it as their final term project. Created at a cost of slightly under $400 (USD) the project was named one of the three best computer engineering projects for the second semester of the last academic year.

The trio, aged 22 and 23, used Lego Mindstorms NXT robotic sets to create the humanoid-like device, which can be moved and controlled using a Google Android smartphone application. When tested at a kindergarten in Bahrain, they made the Nanny Bot hold a marker and draw a circle, triangle and square, to the amazement of the students.

The robot can be moved easily using the Android app and its arms can move in all directions. Using a color sensor attached to one hand, the robot detects the color of any object it touches and says it aloud. It also has an integrated camera to monitor children while their parents are away and a sensor that detects if they are crying. Parents can turn on the robot’s camera by calling its IP address and watch whatever is happening in the child’s room. They will receive an SMS notification when the sound sensor detects crying.

Teachers noted the robot introduces possible new methods of teaching. “It is like the robot is speaking to the child so that they will interact with it and learn more,” said Hawra Ibrahim, one of the engineers. The robot can also be programmed to read fairy tales and play songs.

Team supervisor and computer engineering associate professor Dr Alauddin Al Omary described the robot as a huge leap forward in educational technology. “Educational institutions should understand the importance of technology in teaching because the world has changed now, as well as the way children understand things around them,” he said.

“This robot is created for this aim and I hope it appeals to parents and teachers. I think that, when developed and further upgraded, the robot can become a product for people to buy and use in homes and schools,” Al Omary stated.