Carebot Meets C3PO and Star Wars
Carebot. It must be that when humans reach a certain age, they’re no longer as fussy as to who takes care of them, as long as they’re taken care of. This is just as well, as machines seem more than ready to take over the care giving circuit, with more and more medical robots like GeckoSystems’ Carebot being welcomed into lives and homes of the elderly.
Before getting creeped out at the thought of a thinking machine following your family members around, it is good to know that GeckoSystems has been developing these hardware and software systems since 1997, in the pursuit of creating this specific type of home appliance for the mass market: a personal robot for specific use in child care, elder care and the chronically ill. As early as twelve years ago, the company had already started doing extensive market research to determine the demographic profile of customers interested in the product line. The results, unsurprisingly, showed that the people over sixty-five years old, living alone in metropolitan areas and with broadband Internet available were the people most likely to adopt a Carebot. Indeed, compared to the high cost of assisted living and nursing homes, staying at home and living independently with a one of these caring robots just seems like the better and most practical option.
Even more, the robot, as a type of remote medical monitoring system, can eliminate the feelings of loneliness loss of independence often endured by old people living in these facilities. The trauma and sense of worthlessness is significantly reduced, with families allowed better management of difficult decisions regarding the treatment of their older relatives.
"Since late last year, we have been conducting these ‘world's first elder care robot’ trials,” Martin Spencer, President/CEO of GeckoSystems has stated. “We have learned a great deal about expected and unexpected human to machine interactions in an elder care setting. Our expectations of anticipated benefits have been, in some instances, much more gratifying than we believed prior to initiating these trials. Consequently our conviction as to there being extraordinary pent up demand for personal assistance robots, like our CareBot, bode well for the ROI that our hundreds of investors expect and deserve.”
He continues, "We are learning that valued family behaviors can be readily expressed to the care receiver using a CareBot due to the robustness of its functionality. There seems to be a very important positive --and unforeseen by some parties-impact of valued family behaviors for all members in using a one of these robots to communicate their thoughts and feelings to their beloved family members."
Just like automobiles, these mobile medical robots are made from steel, aluminum, plastic, and electronics, except they fifty to one hundred times the amount of software running. The bots have aluminum frames, plastic shrouds, two independently driven wheels, multiple sensor systems, microprocessors and several onboard computers connected in a local area network (LAN). These microprocessors directly interact with the sensor systems and transmit data to the onboard computers, which run independent, highly specialized cooperative, artificial intelligence software programs like GeckoSavants™, which then complete tasks in a timely, intelligent and sensible manner.
This robot truly has some incredible applications. Since most of today's PCs have voice recognition software packages, the Carebot could listen to a grandmother’s heartbeat twenty-four hours a day. It could listen to her breathing pattern and be able to tell, based on neural nets whether the breathing is normal or abnormal. Based on this information, the robots's brain, located in the PC, could then call 911, or other parties like neighbors or the doctor and inform them that a grandmother needs help because of breathing difficulties.
A video camera in the head of it could also follow Grandma around the house and be able to tell if she has fallen down. The robot will then ask Grandma if she is okay. If her response is weak, garbled, muffled of abnormal in any way, once again the CareBot brain would know that she needed help. Even better, families can connect to the robot from work or home through the PC. That way, families can see and hear exactly what the robot sees and hears, and even be able to communicate with Grandma to tell that help is on the way, if necessary. Additionally it can interact with old people on its own. It comes with software called GeckoChat™, which allows the medical bot to remind grandmothers and grandfathers about important events such as medication, and everything else that they are likely to forget.
Far from being a scary, giant appliance, the Carebot actually seems like a welcome addition to any home experiencing stress and difficulties over caring for an old person. That the robot significantly frees up time for the caregiver, taking over tasks like watching over the patient’s every movement, and enabling family members to take care of him or her even from afar. And far from being a robotic, unfeeling machine, the robot can actually tell jokes, retell anecdotes, recite Bible verses, play songs, and remind patients of guests coming over. More incredibly, its personality, even the speed and intonation of its voice, is fully customizable. The robot can be abrupt, brassy or timid, depending on what the family is most comfortable with.
But most significantly, with this robot, an aging person can stay and live independently in his or house as long as he or she wants, without becoming a burden to his or her family. One of these supposedly costs around $8,000, but the rewards of not having to send your parents away, that you can’t put a price on.
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