News / Calgary

Friendly medical robot wins Calgary company startup award

MEDi helps kids feel less stress when getting shots.

Created by Calgary company RxRobots, MEDi helps put kids at ease by using their name and telling them a story.

Courtesy Mark Williams

Created by Calgary company RxRobots, MEDi helps put kids at ease by using their name and telling them a story.

Calgary company RxRobots has earned the title of Most Innovative Startup at the Pediatrics 2040 conference, for creating a little robot that distracts children while doctors stick vaccine needles in their arms or perform other procedures.

“Most kids are shocked to see a new thing, because they believe, up to the age of 12, that the robot is alive. It has facial recognition,” said president of RxRobots, Mark Williams. “When you move, it moves.”

Pediatrics 2040 is an innovation conference where paediatricians look at technology that will impact health care.

RxRobots invention, called MEDi, was developed over four years at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. It uses behavioural strategies like guided imagery, teaching breathing techniques and telling a story to help calm children during medical procedures.

Williams said they robot’s behaviour can be optimized to work with specific procedures, such as timing a story to wind down as the procedure itself is winding down.

“When they’re done, pretty much all they remember about the procedure was that there was a magical robot that knew their name,” said Williams.

The robot also helps keep the attention of parents too.

Williams said MEDi officially launched nine months ago and will soon have a home in 12 hospitals throughout Canada and the United States.