The gentle robot

By Motoko Kakubayashi 01/10/2010 1


It recognises you, talks to you, and reminds you about that hair appointment at 2pm.  Usually there’s a catch somewhere if you expected this from a person, but the Japanese researchers have developed a robot programmed only to help you, and unveiled it for the first time on September 24.

Created to aid people with mild memory loss or dementia, the small robot first remembers its master’s face and voice, and when time draws near to an appointment, calls out to it’s owner.

“Mr/Mrs (name), today’s the day you go to the Doctor’s isn’t it.  Your ride will be coming soon so maybe it would be a good idea to go to the toilet now.”

Helping those who forget: Japan's newest robot
Helping those who forget: Japan's newest robot

Representatives from electronics company NEC, one of the robot’s makers, had said a new human conversation program had been built into the robot.  At 40 cm tall, and weighing five kilograms, the company also hopes to commercialise the robot within the next five years.

The helper robot was developed as a joint-project between the National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities Research Institute, Tokyo University, and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Five women living in senior citizens were asked to use the robot for about a week, and had all said they had found the robot useful.


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