Indian startup Emotix is using its socially intelligent robot to teach and entertain children over the age of five.

The year-old company wanted to create a robot that could help parents teach their children, rather than replacing the role of teachers. It was developed with the advice from academics and paediatricians to combine emotional signalling with intelligence and entertainment.

This means it can connect better with the child, which means they should learn faster.

“Innovation is driving entrepreneurs to see the potential in social robots, which are not just artificially intelligent, but emotionally sharp as well, ” Sneh Vaswani, CEO and co-founder of India’s first companion robot Miko told the Economic Times.

Miko uses AI to learn about what a child likes and dislikes. This keeps them better engaged. The child can ask the robot questions by starting their sentence with, “Hey, Miko” and it’ll seek out the answers, much like many of the smart home robots available in the market already. It can sing a child’s favourite song, read their favourite book and do much more.

“We are not discounting the role a parent, friend or anyone else will have in the child’s life. Developed with the inputs of senior childcare doctors and academicians, it at best offers a strong value addition to everyday interactions,” he adds.

Emotix explained that because children are already so well acquainted with technology, such as smartphones, TVs and games consoles, Miko offers a familiar way for them to obtain information. However, the challenge is making sure devices are safe and protect children from the negative connotations associated with technology, such as lack of social contact and potentially dangerous networking.

“Purging technology from [children’s] lives is not the right approach – rather, a medium with a completely child-safe interface should be embraced,” Vaswani explained. “Our AI-powered companion robot could be one of them.”