Researchers based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh say they’ve come up with a way to help those with anger management issues using the latest in technology — robots trained to take a punch.
It’s probably too soon to call for an end to barroom brawls, broken furniture and smashed phones.
But maybe these ‘bots can give a much-needed outlet to the angry birds flying about America’s streets and roads? After all, there are robots that help soothe patients in hospitals. Robots that help those with urges to stab and strike can’t be that different. Right?
“Negative emotions are unpleasant, but they are necessary,” said Michal Luria, the leader of the team of scientists who created the robots, in an interview with NBC News. “I suggest that technology can help us channel our negative emotions in a healthier way that doesn’t hurt the people around us.”
OK. Now for the actual product: One robot is dressed in black cloth and wiggles when poked. Another is shaped in geometric blocks and glows red whenever it’s cursed. Another is a fabric-covered, quasi-human shaped doll that laughs maniacally until pounded and hit. And the last is a yellow LED-lit cartridge upon which users first write the words that best describe their frustrations — before smashing with a hammer.
Good ol’ fashioned fun with a purpose.
But then again, one has to wonder: If anger control is an issue, doesn’t it make more sense to learn to control the anger than give vent to it?
Let the psychologists debate.
In the meantime, move over meditation. Stabbing robots, smashing robots and pounding robots with hands and hammers seem about as good a stress reliever than any. They may not be effective at curbing violence or even violent tendencies — but they’re a lot more entertaining, at least, than standing around and squeezing stress balls all day.
And they definitely make for good Christmas presents for parents with high-strung toddlers.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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