COLUMBUS, Ga., Jan. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — One year after being introduced to Americans at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, My Special Aflac Duck, a robotic comfort provider modeled after the famed Aflac Duck, is helping provide comfort and joy to thousands of children across the country. With more than 100 hospitals and childhood cancer care facilities in the United States registered to order ducks, to date, 2,063 have been distributed to children facing cancer. My Special Aflac Duck is Aflac’s latest innovation in its 24-year commitment to children with cancer.
In December, My Special Aflac Duck was named to Time Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Inventions of 2018. Additional accolades include several notable awards from CES 2018, including:
- Engadget’s Best of Show in the Unexpected Product Category.
- Tech for a Better World Innovation Award.
- IHS Markit Showstoppers Award for Robotics.
“The incredible reception that My Special Aflac Duck has received from people who face the reality of childhood cancer on a regular basis has exceeded all of our expectations. We are so pleased that caretakers, parents and children are finding comfort in this very special companion,” Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. “This program has become a labor of love for Aflac, our employees and the independent sales agents licensed to sell our products. It has gained the attention of media, industry groups, the childhood cancer community, regulators and even members of Congress because it is a great way to demonstrate the need to focus on childhood cancer on behalf of those who are impacted most: the children.”
While the prototype of My Special Aflac Duck debuted at CES in January 2018, actual delivery of ducks began in September 2018. Since the initial delivery event, which took place at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, more than 2,000 ducks have been ordered through an online intake system available at AflacChildhoodCancer.org. Health care professionals who treat children with cancer can go to this site to register and order the ducks, free of charge. Aflac has invested more than $3 million to date on the development, creation and delivery of My Special Aflac Duck, which was invented by Sproutel, a health care research and development business based in Providence, Rhode Island, that specializes in robotics. Each duck costs Aflac approximately $200 to build and deliver.
“It is an indescribable feeling to see the smile on children’s faces when they receive My Special Aflac Duck,” Sproutel CEO and Co-Founder Aaron Horowitz said. “It is wonderful to know that they enjoy the functions of the duck that we designed specifically for them. We’re honored to work with Aflac and see this grow from a concept to a program that is impacting the lives of children across the country.”
My Special Aflac Duck uses medical play, lifelike movement and emotions, and an augmented-reality app to engage and help comfort kids during their cancer treatment. Features of the duck include:
- Emotional expression: Seven emoji cards help children communicate as the duck acts out a given feeling when that emoji card is tapped to its chest.
- Medical and nurturing play: The duck’s chemotherapy port allows children to mirror their care through play. What’s more, the duck’s no-cost mobile app allows children to give it a virtual bath, “feed” it and give it medicine.
- Music, singing and nuzzling: The duck sings when music is played. Customizable sounds include gentle waves, wind and a farm.
- Breathing and heartbeat: This lively duck produces a heartbeat and deep breathing, which caregivers can incorporate into calming routines and exercises.
- No waiting required: Batteries and accessories accompany the duck so it is ready to use right away.
- Convenience: The duck features a removable skin that can be washed to ensure hospital hygiene standards are met.
“Our goal is to see the day when My Special Aflac Duck is no longer needed to help children with cancer, but until we find a cure, Aflac’s commitment remains strong – because all children deserve a lifetime,” Amos said.
Since 1995, Aflac has contributed more than $131 million to the treatment and research of childhood cancer. The company currently collaborates with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® and the Children’s Oncology Group to help promote and distribute My Special Aflac Duck across the country. For more information, visit AflacChildhoodCancer.org.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative, for eligible claims, Aflac U.S. can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. In Japan, Aflac is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance and insures 1 in 4 households. Aflac insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For 12 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. In 2018, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 20th consecutive year and included Aflac on its list of World’s Most Admired Companies for the 17th time. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac and One Day PaySM, visit aflac.com or aflac.com/espanol.