TODAY | November 29, 2012
>>> a new approach to help kids learn about emotions using robots in the classroom. this is happening at a school in britain. michelle, good morning.
>> reporter: hi, matt. scientists realized by accident that autistic children respond really well to these cute little robots . they teach the children certain skills and help these kids who can have much difficulty communicating come out of their shells.
>> it seems a very human trait to be fascinated by robots.
>> help me obe --
>> meet this little guy.
>> my name is now. i can recognize your face. grab objects.
>> they are amazing. they stand up by themselves, can tell when you're looking at them, which can be a little spooky.
>> oh, my gosh, it's giving me the weirdest look.
>> memory games.
>> but the most amazing thing about these guys made by the french company is how they captured the imaginations --
>> do you want to play again?
>> -- of the autistic children like steven and daniel at this british school .
>> touch my right hand. congratulations.
>> reporter: with the teachers' guidance, the robots teach them to focus, converse, imitate, even pick up on the subtleties of human emotion that these kids struggle to identify.
>> let me give you a clue. it may be joy, surprise, or mockery, what's your guess?
>> communicating and interacting with a human being , they're trying to do several things at once, words, body language, and facial expression, that can be difficult for them.
>> how does the robot make you feel?
>> because he seems happy too.
>> she says this idea came by accident after a robotics presentation when a mother became emotional when her autistic son started exuberantly interacting with one, a first for the boy.
>> you want to see the kids.
>> the program is backed up by research, but you can easily see its effect.
>> the joy of it, really. these children who sometimes struggle to interact with the teachers and other people, but for some reason they will quite happily interact with a robot.
>> 6-year-old owen who started here very insular saw the robot and immediately asked if he could hold its hand, take it for a walk, stunning his teachers and parents. owen got his walk with the robot much to his delight.
>> well, the appeal of these robots seems to be their simplicity and predictability. but the goal is to help these children interact better with humans and that seems to be happening. some of the kids now have more self-confidence, and two of the kids in autistic programs are now completely in mainstream classes. was there something you wanted to add?
>> i love being on stage. thank you, matt and savannah.
>> michelle, thank you very much. and now thank you very much, we've had a lot of robots on this show over the years. this is the most incredible one i've ever seen.
>> it really is.
>> so he can think, speak, feel, hear. he apparently does yoga, i just saw him do an incredibly acrobatic move.
>> did you see when he was doing "gangnam style" and started to do the dance, the balance he has, goes to the side, doesn't tip over and how he can stand up on his own using one hand.
>> i can't do that.
>> it's amazing. you could see how it would be -- it would really work with kids who have autism. it is just so amazing to see a toy do something like that. to be able to connect at that level.
>> and completely focuses your attention.
>> it's impossible to take your eyes off him when he's moving.
>> fascinating, but not intimidating for those kids.
>> we want it for christmas.
>> the price point's a little bit high.
>> can you imagine how popular it would be --
>> how popular you would be with your kid.
>> thank you. we love you, thanks for coming on.