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Meet Autom, the robotic weight loss coach that lives on your kitchen counter

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 29, 2011 08:41 AM

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Last spring, I wrote about Autom, a "social robot" initially developed at the MIT Media Lab whose job is to help dieters achieve their weight loss goals.

Autom, who looks like she could be the boxier sibling of Eve from "Wall-E," just went on sale for $199; the first units will be delivered early next year. Buyers will also need to sign up for a $19.99 per month subscription for at least one year. Autom is being sold by Intuitive Automata, the company that spun out of MIT.

Here's a video overview of the product, which features an endorsement from Caroline Apovian, director of the nutrition and weight management clinic at Boston Medical Center, who endorses Autom as "the most effective weight loss technique we've tested." (Apovian began collaborating with Autom's builders when they were still at MIT; as an advisor to Intuitive Automata now, she holds a number of stock options in the company, founder Cory Kidd tells me.)

Autom asks you about what you're eating and how much you are exercising, and shows you how much progress you're making on your weight loss goals. She also dispenses encouragement.

What do you think: could a $199 countertop robot become the Weight Watchers of the 21st century?

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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