Nearly 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year and face almost three years of average treatment time, a time that will likely be one of the most difficult experiences of that child’s life. Aflac has designed an interactive toy and medical aid, My Special Aflac Duck, which is designed to make sure each child with cancer feels less alone during their treatment process. As the winner of the “Tech for a Better World Innovation Award” at CES 2018, the robotic duck provides emotional support to help children patients and their families cope with the difficult experience of cancer treatment. My Special Aflac Duck is the newest addition to the Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign, a 22-year-old project with the aim of improving the quality of life for children with cancer. 

My Special Aflac Duck is capable of moving naturally, interacting with the child, and engaging in play to help make treatments and day-to-day care easier on its child companion. Aflac underwent a year-long child-focused research project to fully understand how to make the best and most comforting product they could. Though the duck has a robotic interior, a thick plush exterior makes it soft and cuddly so the children can snuggle it like a pet or teddy bear. Its interactive capabilities are designed to help each child feel less alone, and its smart technology provides emotional support to help the child express their feelings during an incredibly difficult time in their life. Cards with different faces expressing various emotions can be tapped to the duck’s chest, and the duck will act out that emotion, helping children communicate their feelings through a comforting friend in a way that helps connect them to the world. With lifelike movements and emotion emulation technology, each child can play with, pet, feed, bathe, and communicate with their new special duck, providing a constant companion that bridges medical care with emotional comfort. 

Aflac’s goal is to provide the 16,000 kids that are diagnosed with cancer each year with a friendly companion designed to ease the burden of their long treatments. My Special Aflac Duck will be free of charge for each child patient, and Aflac plans to distribute them nationwide in winter 2018-2019. 

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