Beste Ozcan comes with an impressive CV: a PhD in Design and Innovation at the Second University of Naples, and collaboration with prestigious European universities on studies and activities relating to Smart Wearables. A native of Turkey, she came to Italy and studied hard to turn her passion for design and robotics into a source of income. Beste’s dream has become reality with the concept of Transitional Wearable Companions (TWCs), in particular the “+ME”, an experimental social robot that has a soft and appealing look. What is it used for? Worn
around the user’s neck, it is designed to facilitate and promote the development of social and communication skills of children suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
The project is headed by the Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione (Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies) of Rome, and is now in a trial phase in centres hosting children suffering from ASD. It is a good depiction of the synergies between design and innovation underpinning Beste’s research work and her vision of a future in which innovative design will facilitate interactions between man and technology. The researcher has a particular interest in areas such as Child-Robot Interaction and Wearable Devices, in order to help children with communication difficulties to integrate in society.
“The passion and interest of everyone that believes in the potential of this idea, in particular researchers at the ISTC-CNR and doctors and therapists at the INI Villa Dante Rehabilitation Institute, have
allowed us to produce a working prototype. In order to continue developing the project, and to fine-tune the technology and its functionality, we do however need extra funding”.
The story has been written by Jason Ray Forbus, writer.