“Does it work?” A framework to evaluate the effectiveness of a robotic toy for children with special needs
To evaluate the performance of a social robot, both the aspects of safety and technical efficiency as well as the effectiveness of the interaction with the robot from the users' points of view need to be considered. The work described in this paper derived from the IROMEC1 project (Interactive Robotic Social Mediators as Companions) that investigates the design and role of an interactive, autonomous robotic toy in therapy and education contexts for children with special needs. The paper proposes a framework for the evaluation of robotic toys used as mediators for children with special needs and present its implementation with the specially designed IROMEC robot. Special attention is given to the interactions' effectiveness, considering the therapeutic and educational role that the robot can play for children with special needs in many different developmental areas.