An elderly resident holds a therapeutic robot named Paro at the Suisyoen retirement home, about 30 km (19 miles) south of the tsunami-crippled nuclear plant in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, July 28, 2011. For some elderly survivors of Japan’s march earthquake and tsunami, comfort comes in the form of a small white robotic seal named Paro. The residents of the nursing home came back from a nearly two-month-long evacuation since the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Picture taken July 28, 2011. To match Reuters Life! ROBOT-SEAL/ REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN – Tags: SCI TECH SOCIETY ENERGY)
According to the U.S Census, slights over 5 percent of the 65+ population occupy nursing homes, congregate care, assisted living, and board-and-care homes and about 4.2 percent are in nursing homes at any given time. While 5% might not seem like a lot but there are approximately 78 million baby boomers. So approximately 5 percent, or 3.9 million people are expected to head for these facilities. Also with baby-boomers retiring later, all these people will most likely start needing assistance all at the same time.
Japan is aware of this, and that’s why they are one of the first nations to introduce support robots into their options for elderly care. In Japan the annual birth rate has been dropping and a quater of the population is 65+. Japan has deployed the Dinsow elder care robot into many of the homes of the elderly. This robots acts as sort of a persnal assistant. It helps its user remember to take their pills, tracks their health and automatically answers incoming calls from family and doctors. They also made a second version of this robot that is small enough to live on the night stand of bedridden patients.
For patients who need companion as well as a guardian as well, there is the MiRo robotic dog. Like the other robot, it does the typical pill regimen management, general companionship and appointment reminders but it also keeps an eye on the health of the patient. It tries talking to you and then based on the signals it gets front the paitent, it will contant a command control system which will braodcast on a home speaker asking you again if you are all right, and telling you to slap your wrist. That refers to a biometric sensing wristband that the user wears which tracks their vitals.”If you slap your wrist the process will stop but will be logged,” says the MiRo’s designer, Sebastian Conran. “If you don’t slap your wrist it will… go to a carer, who can see your heart rate and body temperature, and rewind your life using the cameras in the home to see what happened. So when the ambulance gets there, they’ll know what they’re working with.”
The States aren’t too far behind because we are deploying the ElliQ which is a system similar to the Dinsow in December. Its a interactive robot with an integrated tablet. It will tracks its users pill regimen and connects them to family, friends and medical professionals through video calls and social media. The system will utilize machine learning to figure out its users preferences and “quirks.” It can then make proactive activity recommendations based on what it know its user likes.
Would you trust the life of your parents or grandparents in the hands of a robot?