Thursday, June 09, 2005

Robotic Eldercare

Ronald Arkin, director of the Robot Mobile Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, adds, "There's always danger associated when people start to bond with nonhumans or nonhuman artifacts. What the long-term effect on the social fabric will be is largely unknown and under-studied."

Dr. Takanori Shibata, the creator of Paro, has found similar results. Shibata and his colleagues found that robot interaction lowered stress, elevated moods and decreased depression. Additionally, Paro encouraged communication and social behavior among subjects. What's more, Shibata found that brain activity increased 50% in patients with dementia after just twenty minutes with Paro. Caretakers were positively affected as well: The robots not only decreased nurses' stress levels but also gave them something to discuss with their elderly patients.

And newer robots have the potential to serve as much more than companions. The machines could monitor aged patients, watching out for falls, and remind them to take their medications. Additionally, they could serve as communication tools, providing wireless voice and video links to distant friends and family members.

Anecdotal reports are encouraging. According to the nursing staff, Paro, which responds to human voices and caresses, has become part of the family. In fact, nurses often find elderly patients covering the robot in blankets and trying to feed it cake or other snacks, despite the fact that Paro can't really eat.

Nanto City, Japan: Robotic Companions -

Toyota in eldercare robot market

Toshiba Homecare robots


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home