My Special Aflac Duck Takes Home Best of CES 2018 Award

Caring Companion for Children with Cancer Honored for Best Unexpected Product among 3,900 Exhibitors
Jan 12, 2018 1:25 PM ET
Press Release

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 12, 2018 /3BL Media/ – Aflac, the leader in voluntary insurance sales at the worksite in the United States, capped off a busy week at the Consumer Electronics Show® (CES) by accepting the Best of CES 2018 Award for Best Unexpected Product for My Special Aflac Duck, the company’s new social robot designed to help children coping with cancer. The smart companion was created by Sproutel, a research and development workshop focused on making health care playful, based on a year of child-centered research conducted by Sproutel at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the most prominent children’s cancer facilities in the nation, caring for more than 400 new childhood cancer patients each year.

“Understandably, many people were surprised to see an insurance company and a duck at CES – the global stage for innovation. Aflac is grateful that attendees took the time to learn about My Special Aflac Duck and recognize not only the impressive technology built into the social robot, but the important impact that we believe it will have on the children and families facing cancer across the country,” Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. “Receiving this award confirms our core belief that investing in creating tangible ways to improve our world is good for our communities and our business, and we invite others to support this worthy cause.”

The Best of CES Awards celebrate the innovation and noteworthy products on display by the more than 3,900 exhibitors at CES each year. Earlier in the week, My Special Aflac Duck was recognized as the winner of the prestigious “Tech for a Better World” CES Innovation Award and the IHS Markit Innovation Award for Robotics and Drones at CES 2018.

"It is humbling to be recognized among the impressive innovations at CES and gratifying that this new robotic companion can make a real difference in the lives of children who have cancer," said Aaron Horowitz, CEO and co-founder of Sproutel. "The Best of CES Award is the ultimate stamp of approval for my team’s creative ideas and innovations. I would like to thank Aflac for making the development of My Special Aflac Duck possible and supporting our patient-centered, empathy-driven design process that puts children first."

My Special Aflac Duck, part of Aflac’s ongoing Aflac Childhood Cancer Campaign and developed by Sproutel, features naturalistic movements and joyful play to help distract children coping with cancer. With four patents pending and a year of child-centered research behind it, My Special Aflac Duck is a smart comforting companion that helps children feel less alone by using interactive technology during their cancer treatment. A compatible web-based app enables children to mirror their care routines, including medical play, feeding and bathing via augmented reality. The smart companion emulates young patients’ moods, endures the same often-painful therapies, and dances, quacks and nuzzles to help comfort children when they need it most.

In early 2018, Aflac and Sproutel will begin delivering the My Special Aflac Duck to children at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for further testing. The smart companion is expected to be available to children with cancer nationwide in winter 2018-2019.

To see videos of the award-winning My Special Aflac Duck in action and to learn more about this important cause, please visit AflacChildhoodCancer.org.

About Aflac

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, Aflac U.S. can receive, process, approve and disburse payment for eligible claims in 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 11 consecutive years, Ethisphere has recognized Aflac as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2017, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 19th consecutive year and in 2017 included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 16th 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.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.

About Sproutel

Sproutel is a research and development workshop focused on making health care playful. Using a proprietary, patient-centered and empathy-driven design process, Sproutel collaborates hand in hand with end users and a network of medical experts to create award-winning innovations like My Special Aflac Duck and Jerry the Bear. Jerry is an interactive companion for children living with Type 1 diabetes created in part with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Companies and nonprofits partner with Sproutel to develop new products and gain patient-centered insights to commercialize existing research. To find out more about Sproutel, visit sproutel.com.

About the Best of CES Awards Program

The Best of CES Awards Program started over a decade ago to celebrate the innovation and noteworthy products on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) each year. For the fifth year, Engadget is adjudicating the official Awards in partnership with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). For the official list of finalists and winners, visit the Best of CES Awards hub. CES® is a registered trademark of the CTA.

Media Contact

Jon Sullivan, 706.763.4813 or jsullivan@aflac.com

Aflac Analyst and Investor Contact

David A. Young, 706.596.3264 or 800.235.2667, FAX 706.324.6330, or dyoung@aflac.com