When I get older…

Beatles asked a relevante question in their song “When I’m 64” – will you still care for me when I get older. If we give this question a reality-twist into the everyday we expect in a not so distant future – it becomes even more relevant. Many nations with Japan in a leading postion and Denmark closing in rapidly will shortly be forced to deal with the question of how to take care of those that require care and atention due to age or disabilities.

In this blog I have mentioned a number of robot technologies that are relevant in this area. The Airwater human ‘car wash’ shower robot for example and the robots created by RoboVieII and the TMSUK remote controlled shopping robots.

In Japan last november I experienced many interesting robot prototypes at places like the Panasonics development Lab and the University Hospital of Gifu. These are places where they develop robots that help us do the daily tasks with as little human help as possible, and that seems to be one way the robots are going. Our physical needs will clearly to a ever increasing level be taken care of by robots instead of by humans – thus freeing ressources for other tasks.

The other direction that robot technology take in the area of care taking is within the area of adressing our need for interaction with another intelligent beeing. Our social needs. The most notable example of a robot in this line of caretaking is seen with the Paro Robotic Seal. This is desribed further in this article from GizMag. Paro interacts with people that for example suffer from dementia by uttering small southing noices, expressing needs and providing comforting company. Like a puppy but without the messy details.

However for those of us that are still functioning in a way where we prefer social interaction with human beings the companies ZMP and TMSUK provide robots that will be the mechanical representation of your loved ones. For example by being an autonoumous telephone that will find you in your house when somebody calls you, or that will call for help if you are not responding to its signals as should be expected. This ties closely into the whole concept of the intelligent caretaking house with electronic beds that monitors your behaviour and strike an alarm if your pattern changes beyond the acceptable.

I have also described the Funktionoide create by Festo. A ‘blob’ or slug-like robotic creature that will provide some sort of companion in your house.

Now all of these different robots that are supposed to solve our social needs are the results of experiments designed to find the right mix between technology vs. organic design and human vs. artificial interaction. Some of them have as a purpose to create a situation as close to what we know as possible – others to create a completely new experience.

Right now – at the adult industries fair – a robot is being introduced to the market which tries to emulate real human interaction as closely as possible. Just google Roxxxy and see what I am taling about.

In conclusion – two areas of robots are being developed now: Robots to help us in the everyday tasks and robots to help us experience social interaction.

Within these areas extensive research is going on to find out how to create the proper blend between technology and naturelike experiences.

It is my prediction that this area is going to explode within the next couple of years.


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