Can this robot coach help you lose weight?

Autom doesn’t scold diet cheaters.

Intuitive Automata)

Can the merciless resolve of a robot overlord help you shed pounds? A Hong Kong startup is hoping dieters are willing to pony up for a $960 droid instead of just using an app.

Intuitive Automata is accepting orders for Autom, its cute robot weight-loss helper that has long been in development.

The 15-inch talking droid has an LCD touch screen. Users enter data on calories they consume and the exercise they do each day. The robot responds with customized advice and encouragement, and can download new speech patterns from the Internet so the chatter doesn’t get too dull.

Developer Cory Kidd says that many dieters have tried phone- or Web-based apps to get rid of excess weight, but there’s a “psychological difference” in using a machine with a head, blinking eyes, and body.

Perhaps Autom’s face-tracking function and big blue eyes will make users feel guilty about sneaking that pizza slice between meals. Kidd refers to Autom with female pronouns, and says “she” doesn’t scold users.

A study by Kidd compared 45 dieters in the Boston area and monitored their calories and exercise by computer, on paper, or with Autom. The results showed the robot helped people stick to their diets for nearly… [Read more]

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