Add another robot to the list of helping bots for seniors. A robot named Charlie rolled into a New Zealand retirement village on Monday to take residents' vital signs, deliver their medication reminders, and call for assistance if they fall.
Charlie's trial stint at Selwyn Retirement Village in Auckland's Point Chevalier is, in part, a response to a University of Auckland study exploring seniors' attitudes toward robots.
The study--part of a three-year "HealthBots" collaboration by the University of Auckland and Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute--collated the opinions of Selwyn Retirement Village residents, their families, and staff on what tasks health care robots could perform and what the mechanical helpers should look like.
Results showed respondents felt most comfortable with robots taking vital signs such as blood pressure, calling for help, lifting heavy objects, cleaning, and making phone calls to a doctor or nurse. They did not identify personal care, medical advice, and assessing emotions as tasks they'd like to see taken over by robots.
As far as physical appearance, residents and staff indicated they preferred a "middle-age robot" with a clear voice, though they didn't have a preference for male or female features. The robot shouldn't be too human-like, they suggested, with some residents explicitly saying they'd rather be tended to by a robot without a face. The preferred design was silver and around 4 feet tall, so the robot was not too imposing, with wheels and a screen.
Enter Charlie, which pretty much fits that description.… Read more