Can you imagine visiting a relative to find a robot serving up their food and asking them how they are feeling? Various reports suggest that this is the future of the care industry, and it might arrive quicker than you think.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin recently unveiled the latest prototype: a human-like robot named Stevie. This is just the latest of a host of others set to revolutionise the care industry.
Bear-shaped robots are already being used in Japan to lift patients out of their beds and chairs. Japan-built robot Pepper is currently being trialled in a Southend care home.
MiRo is a robotic dog – currently in development – which monitors changes in routine and works with sensors and cameras in the home. The MiRo developers are also making a robot table which will pick and deliver food then adjust to the user’s height.
The way forward?
So, is this a good thing for the care industry? Developers have quashed the idea that these robots will replace care workers; with an increasingly ageing population, these robots simply aid and assist busy care workers.
But will an increasing reliance on technology mean the personal nature of care will suffer? The developers point to the robots’ human-like qualities as reasons for their use in care homes. The robots can entertain, engage with and monitor their patients; they can learn the patients’ traits to pick up on something wrong; MiRo can even remind you of visitor’s names.
Humanoid robot Pepper is already used in thousands of homes in Japan. It has the capability of recognising faces and voices to determine happiness. Not yet used for one-to-one care in its UK trial, is it just a matter of time until this robot-revolution becomes all-encompassing?