Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Robotic Caregivers the future or a dream?

Even though fully functioning robot caregivers may be a long way off, roboticists and physicians predict that a new wave of advances in computerized, robotic and Internet-connected technologies will be available in coming years to help older adults stay at home longer.

Here are some robots that are already here and although they are yet to be in mass supply, they all contribute to the idea we can help as we age whether at home or in a home. 

Mabu, produced by Catalia Health, is available now but only through healthcare providers on whom the price is dependent, according to the website.

The Vasteras Giraff is a mobile communication tool that enables the elderly to communicate with the outside world. It's remote controlled, and it has wheels, a camera and a monitor. Essentially, the Giraff is a robot that provides two-way video calling similar to Skype. A caregiver can control the robot using a typical PC. 

The Aethon TUG is an automated system that allows a facility to move supplies such as medication, linens and food from one space to another. The robot moves through hospital corridors, elevators and departments at any time during the day to make either scheduled or on-demand deliveries. End users can attach the system to a variety of hospital carts to transport supplies and it can be employed for a variety of applications. According to the company, the system allows for increased productivity since it "doesn't get distracted while making a delivery, allowing it to accomplish more in less time.

The Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, or RP-VITA, which combines iRobot's AVA telepresence units with InTouch health's distance education tools, creating a system that allows physicians to care for patients remotely.

The system features mapping and obstacle detection, as well as avoidance technology and an iPad user interface for control and interaction. The robot can also interface with diagnostic devices and electronic medical records (EMR) systems. The remote rig will eventually be able to navigate to specified target destinations autonomously.

Bestic is a small robotic arm with a spoon on the end. The arm can be easily maneuvered, and a user can independently control the spoon's movement on a plate to choose what and when to eat. According to the company, the robot has a "unique design" that fits on tables and can also be adjusted for each user by choosing buttons, a joystick, a foot control or another control device they prefer.

Healthcare Robotics' Nursing Assistant uses a direct physical interface (DPI) that lets a nurse have direct control over the movement of the robot, a "human-scale" mobile manipulator called Cody. Using the DPI, the nurse is able to lead and position Cody by making direct contact with its "body." When the user grabs and moves either of the robot's end effectors -- or the black rubber balls attached to the robot -- Cody responds. For example, pulling forward or pushing backward make the robot do the same, and moving the end effector to the right or the left causes the robot to rotate. Users can also grab Cody's arm and abduct or adduct it at the shoulder, causing Cody to move sideways.

CosmoBot is part of a phenomenon called robotic therapy. Doctors use CosmoBot to enhance the therapy of developmentally disabled children between 5 and 12 years old. Using the robot can make therapy more interesting for children and allows for better success when achieving long-term therapy goals.

The company designed CosmoBot to collect data on a child's performance. This allows therapists to evaluate how successful the therapy is. Similar to CosmoBot are robots mirroring stuffed animals, also used for therapeutic purposes. For example, PARO, which resembles a stuffed toy baby seal, allows patients to have the experience of animal therapy without the problems associated with live animals. AIST, a leading Japanese industrial automation pioneer, developed the PARO robot, which is designed to "express different moods" depending on the patient's interaction with it, and it can learn how to respond to a certain name when called it a number of times.

Several scientists and researchers around the world are manufacturing "microbots" -- an assortment of free-roaming robots that carry out precise, delicate tasks inside the human body. For example, a minibot named Steerable Surgeons is made of flat nickel parts assembled to make a 3-D tool that can be used during retinal surgeries, in drug therapy and for ocular disease. Its power sources are external electromagnetic coils, and it uses magnetic field gradients as a steering mechanism.

Similar to Steerable Surgeons are microbots such as Robot Pills and Plaque Busters. Robot Pills are designed as a capsule that contains a magnet, camera, wireless chip and a set of mechanical legs. It's powered by DC motors and magnets outside of the body, and it uses a camera and wireless telemetry system. The Robot Pill is about two centimeters long and clinicians use it in disease screening.

Similarly, Plaque Busters are magnetic capsules equipped with a micro drill head. Surgeons use these microbots, which are 10-mm long, to remove plaque from arteries. They're powered by electromagnetic coils and use magnetic field gradients to steer.

Anybots was founded in 2001 and performs robot research and development. Within healthcare, AnyBots provides a type of immersive telepresence, meaning instead of focusing merely on audio and video communications, the AnyBots robot allows for movement controlled by a remote.

"If you're a doctor and have to manage 10 different nursing homes ... the robot can go in, and the doctor can control his movement and direction," said Shahid Shah, health IT analyst. "It can turn on sensors at the control of not the person in the room, but the person who wants to do the communication," he said. Shah said this type of telepresense is impressive since it can move in and out of a specific area and record findings. "In the future, I'd hope to see new sensors shine a beam of light, for example," he said. "Today, it's more about [helping] a human being who's not in a specific location feel like he's there."

The Swisslog RoboCourier is an autonomous mobile robot. The tool dispatches and delivers specimens, medications and supplies throughout the hospital, according to the company. Once the robot is carrying what needs to be delivered, a person identifies the destination and the robot selects the most efficient route to deliver the materials.

Unlike other conveying systems, the robot can navigate throughout specific environments without lines, beacons, reflectors, magnets or tape, since each robot is guided by an electronic map that plans the best route to the selected destination. The robot uses laser detection to ensure precise and safe navigation, while voice-activated messages alert staff of the robot's presence. The robot also stops and waits until traffic is clear, and it can signal doors to automatically open so it can move through.

GeriJoy is a Caregiving Companion, built to address many of the unique challenges faced by seniors and their families The GeriJoy Companion uses a special tablet, a remote team of human caregivers and advanced computer intelligence systems, to provide personalized, around-the-clock emotional support and real, stimulating social interactions.

Seniors with the GeriJoy Companion are less lonely, because they always have someone to talk to. Their health improves, because they always have someone reminding them about important things like medication and exercise. And their family relationships and mental function improve, because they’re happier and more engaged with their environment.

The latest creation from Aldebaran, Pepper is the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. At the risk of disappointing you, he doesn't clean, doesn't cook and doesn't have super powers... Pepper is a social robot able to converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously.

Engaging and friendly, Pepper is much more than a robot, he’s a companion a
ble to communicate with you through the most intuitive interface we know: voice, touch and emotions.

The impact of technological advancement on peoples' job prospects will probably grow. Many (though not all) of the experts surveyed on the future of jobs by the Pew Internet and Life Project last year believe that artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation will imperil white-collar jobs, from media to medicine to finance to law, along with many aspects of the retail, hospitality and customer service industries.

Finally, owning a pet is good for your health, but many places do not allow them, so Hasbro has been selling what they call an animatronic cat for elders who cannot have a living pet. It responds to touch, movement, sound, and it purrs: - See more

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