Robot Elderly Care

healthbotsElderly care by humans could soon be a thing of the past.  With robots becoming more versatile, new “human assistive devices” could be how the elderly are cared for in the future.  HealthBots have various features, including measuring their owner’s heart-rates, blood pressure checks, can send important data to caregivers, detecting falls and reminding them to take their medication. This project – jointly developed by UniServices and the University of Aukland with the Electronic and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea – seeks to develop “the potential to help care for older people, to improve their quality of life, and to give human care staff more time for skilled tasks that require the more human touch.”

The main aim of the team is to use robots to play “a meaningful part in our future society, assisting health care professionals with repetitive tasks and provide interactions to help enrich elderly social experiences.” Robots will work by being connected wirelessly to a computer network through a central service that will deliver the IT support the robot needs for its operation.

Both Japan and New Zealand have been dealing with an aging society and the former is extremely advanced in robotic technology.  New Zealand has a special focus in software and mechanical engineering in human robotics and Japan in hardware.

So far, small iRobi robots and a larger ‘Charlie’ robot have been introduced successfully, with seniors bonding with them well.  Martin Taylor, CEO of New Zealand Aged Care Association believes that while robots will have a place in the future lives of the elderly, “nothing will ever replace the need for caring, empathetic person-to-person contact when the elderly are in a physically and emotionally complex time.”