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IBM robot could take care of elderly people who live alone

pepper robotA prototype robot that could assist senior citizens by detecting vital signs.Fifty-year-olds, take notice: In a few decades you might have a robot roommate taking care of you.

In conjunction with Rice University, IBM is developing a series of sensors that can someday live inside a robot interface to help senior citizens stay safe.

Susann Keohane, senior technologist at IBM Research, says the project addresses a growing need for technology that helps aging populations preserve both their independence and their overall health, while also avoiding disruption in their daily lives.

"If you slap an Apple Watch on an 88-year-old, that's not feasible for most 88-year-olds," Keohane tells Business Insider. "That's just not in their world."

Keohane says technology must be wholly intuitive for senior citizens to use it on a regular basis. As designers say, it must be "frictionless." IBM has tried to achieve that goal by developing sensors that detect changes in motion, scent, and audio, all of which could indicate a potentially dangerous scenario for elders living alone.

Susann Keohane, IBM Research Senior Technologist, demonstrates the sensor system in a hypothetical home.The prototype robot for this solution is the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA), which the company has been testing at its "Aging in Place" lab based in Austin, Texas. The lab was designed to mimic experiences seniors have in their own home.

Sensors can detect when the stove's burners are on, or when a person has fallen down. Even in its prototype stage, MERA is equipped with cameras to read facial expressions, sensors to capture vital signs, and Watson-powered speech recognition to know when to call for help.

A NAO robot demonstrates its fall-detecting capabilities at the Austin, Texas lab.MERA isn't available to consumers yet. Keohane says the company still has a lot of research to do before it begins to think about bringing the robot to market. IBM also wants the robot to enter each person's home already chock-full of important information, and to do that requires collecting it first.

"In the near-term, it would be more of the ambient sensors in the home starting to gather all of this data," Keohane says. Then a robot could come in and download those batches of data to "learn" about its resident.






Video: This Watson-Powered Robot Will Help a Growing Population

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Date: 14.12.2018, 17:45 / Views: 43453