Diet by Robot

7/6/2008 BOSTON, Mass. Low-carb, low-fat, no sugar, running, biking, yoga. We try everything to lose weight. But now, feast your eyes on the newest weight-loss tool. This robot is actually a diet coach.

"The robot is designed to always be supportive and helpful. It's not going to chastise me if I haven't done well," says Cory Kidd, Ph.D., from MIT, inventor of the diet robot and Founder and CEO of Intuitive Automata, Inc. in Boston.

Dr. Kidd spent 18 months developing the robot. Four motors and cameras in its eyes track who it's talking to.

"Something that has eyes, for example, and seems to be looking at you while it's talking to you draws a person in more quickly," Dr. Kidd says.

"It's very personable," says diet robot user Amna Carreiro.

Carreiro lost nine pounds in eight weeks using her robot. She named it Maya.

"I was looking forward to just going home at the end of the day, just recording information," Carreiro says.

The robot asks dieters to input data about what they ate and how much they exercised. It stores the data and also provides feedback on how to meet weight loss goals.

"It feels very caring as opposed to just going to the computer and logging it to any kind of chart," Carreiro says.

And it works! During initial studies, robot users stayed on their weight-loss program nearly twice as long as dieters who used traditional computer programs or hand-written logs. Proof that a little high-tech help can go a long way.

The robot is plugged into an outlet. Dr. Kidd has started a company to mass produce the robot and is hoping to sell them for a few hundred dollars apiece.

Cory Kidd, Ph.D., Founder and CEO
Intuitive Automata, Inc.
Boston, MA
(775) 317-8094

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