Who needs a friend when you can have Autom by your side, counting calories, monitoring exercise and providing progress reports? That’s right, a new diet robot will soon be available, courtesy of Hong Kong start-up Intuitive Automata. For a mere $500 (+/-), you can have an adorable 15-inch robot who will bat its eyelashes, provide updates on its LCD screen and keep you on that diet.
The brainchild of Cory Kidd, an MIT grad and developer with Intuitive Automata, the robot is meant to encourage and engage dieters in a friendly way. Linked to the internet, Autom monitors your food intake and bats its eyelashes all in one fell swoop. According to a small study conducted by Kidd, dieters who used the Autom to track their dieting progress were able to stick to their diets twice as long as those using more traditional methods, such as logging the information on a computer or good old-fashioned paper.
The increased success using Autom may be due the “cute” factor. Apparently some of the users named their Autom and dressed it up. But you cannot deny that personal coaching, even from an automated robot, is a helpful weight loss tool. Motivation in a diet wanes significantly as the weeks progress, when weight loss stalls, or when faced with temptation. By monitoring your intake and exercise expenditures, you get real-time conversation and motivation from your mechanical buddy.
There is one catch, it looks like there will be a monthly fee associated with the Autom. The fee is for back-end services such as monitoring and medical advice. Autom will be tested in a pilot program with a major insurance company early in 2011, maybe in time to help with New Year’s weight loss resolutions.