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Meet ikki: a patient’s best friend

Ikki can take a patient’s temperature, it can sing to a patient, and it can let a patient know when to take their medicine and if they are taking the right medicine. Ikki is your friend. Ikki is also a robot.

Ikki is the new companion therapy robot designed to make a patient’s life better, in particular, child cancer patients.

Currently being trialled at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, the robot aims to take some of the pressure away from the parents of patients, while giving the children a sense of control over their treatment.

Ikki came to fruition via founder Clive McFarland’s need to irritate people. During his time at the University of NSW’s Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, he made small interactive robots, which would either delight or annoy colleagues and friends.

The friends who were delighted included ikkiworks co-founder Colin Stahel, who convinced McFarland of the potential medical application of the robots.

Originally code-named project Icarus – after the Greek myth of Icarus who flew to close to the sun (“We kind of did like the idea of naming, particularly a tech company, after something that crashed and burned,” McFarland said) – the name was shortened to ikki when they realised the massive benefits these robots could have for kids.

Eventually ikkiworks hopes to broaden the robot's horizons and use it for other ages and medical conditions, such as in the aged care space for “monitoring and providing companionship, for a group of people who we know do tend to be isolated”, McFarland said.

Nursing Review spoke with McFarland to hear more about his robotic pal.

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