The robot that protects elderly

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In Japan they are way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to developing robots. The University of Tokyo recently unveiled their latest creation: Mamoru. This ghostly looking robot was developed to help out the growing group of elderly people.

The main task of the robot is to function as a memory for the elderly. Mamoru, which means “to protect”, has the ability to recognize objects in the room. When somebody loses his glasses or remote control, the robot will be able to point out the location. It will also kindly remind you of the medication you have to take. I really like these kind of developments. Elderly are often ashamed of forgetting things, and a robot is an ideal way to help them out.

At the moment Mamoru is still a prototype robot. It is in development by the Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative, situated at The University of Tokyo. They tried to design a robot that looks like a friendly grandmother. But right now it still has a very ghostly appearance. I hope future versions will appear friendlier, since it is very personal.

An aspect I really miss, but maybe the robot has this ability (my Japanese isn’t that good), is the social factor. When looking at the features of the robot it is very functional; pointing out objects. This is handy, but a lot of elderly are very lonely. They have a need for some sort of pet (or robot) in their house that interacts with them… something they can talk against and that responds. Wouldn’t it be great if Mamoru wouldn’t just recognize objects, but also moments. That it would start chit-chat when you are drinking tea. Or when you wake up it could say ‘Good morning’ and start with the news.

via Robot Watch

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

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