Rosie, the family maid on the prime-time animated sitcom the Jetsons, was the first example of a revolution in caregiving robots to come. Today’s robots are leading the way in the fields of memory assistance, security, housekeeping, companionship and caregiving.
Robots that Assist Memory
On the cutting edge of elderly assisting robots is the University of Tokyo, which has developed a series of “reminder robot” prototypes. These robots are designed to help elderly people remember where they place items or what tasks they have already accomplished that day.
One such robot named “Mamoru,” which means “to protect” in Japanese, watches every move its owner makes and gives a verbal alert if he or she tries to do the same activity twice. Another reminder robot monitors a room with cameras and sensors to keep track of where pre-registered objects have been placed in the room.
Wouldn’t a robot like this come in handy in our daily lives?
ApriAttenda, an amazing Japanese concept robot from Toshiba, records the experiences and memories of an elderly person for posterity.
Perhaps a much more practical application of robotics is the e-pill, which is an electronic pill dispenser. The Medtime XL (the creator called it a robot, so we are including it here even though it doesn’t look like one) is an easy-to-use pill robot that automatically dispenses medications, alerts the user when medicine needs to be taken and displays the appropriate dosing information.
Taking the previous concept into the future is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Ageing Lab’s Robot Pet. Pill Pets give owners a reminder when it’s time to take a pill or go to the doctor for a checkup. If the user fails to report back to the Pill Pet after performing the task, the creature will try a more visceral reminder, such as simulating sickness or death.
Fatronik Home Robot
The Fatronik Home Robot Prototype helps its owner in many ways. It assists with walking, remembering daily tasks, controlling environmental security, providing health services and communicating with people (doctor, assistant, family). The robot will also have the ability to stimulate the user emotionally, fending off loneliness and promoting a healthier, more active lifestyle for the user. Read more about the Fatronik Home Robot Prototype here.
The following video shows a robot that can clear the dishes, load a dishwasher and do a load of laundry. A real-life Rosie the housekeeper of your very own!
In this next video, iRobot Roomba lifts an amazing amount of dirt, dust, pet hair, cat litter, crumbs and other debris from your carpets and hard floors. Its features include powerful suction and rotation brushes, automatic navigation for best cleaning coverage, and self-adjusting pre-sets that allow the Roomba to go from carpets to hard floors and back again. The Roomba can clean under and around furniture, corners and wall edges. It automatically avoids stairs, drop-offs and off-limit areas, thereby preventing injuries to itself, its owners and its owner’s prized possessions. It’s also simple to use. Just press the “Clean” button and the Roomba does the rest.
Robots for Companionship
A while back, ElderGadget wrote about the Paro Robot Therapy Seal Pup, which was one of the more interesting robotic creature companions appearing at the 2009 CES show in Las Vegas. It is not only fun to play with, but it is eerily reminiscent of the Tribbles from the original Star Trek TV series. It was certified by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the World’s Most Therapeutic Robot.
Or perhaps a robotic pet is more up your alley? There are dogs, cats and even dinosaur robotic pets like Pleo that can keep a senior company and provide hours of entertainment.
Would you let the UBOT 5 caregiving robot take care of you? And finally, meet the real WALL-E!
We certainly have come a long way from the imagined robots of the past. Now the field of robotics is changing the way healthcare and caregiving are delivered. There is already evidence that using robotics to relieve healthcare professionals of some of their burdens can improve the quality of healthcare. For a growing number of dependent elderly, it appears that robots are certainly here to stay.