Melissa, a robot that can teach a kid to read. Kira, a robot that calms down people with dementia. And Buddy, a robotic teddy bear that helps kids with autism connect meaningfully with others. Don’t you think it’s fascinating how up till recently, robots were only designed for industries such as automotive and defense? But not anymore. In recent times, thanks to increased computing power and artificial intelligence, some robots are playing an important role in our society: they are helping humans live better. Robots like the ones I mentioned above are created by IBM. IBM’s aim is to use its technology to make our lives better.
A robot that teaches autistic children how to play.
A robot that teaches autistic children how to play. A robot that calls out to you in the street to tell you it’s sorry for bumping into you. A robot that wants to be your friend and sticks out its paw when you offer it a fist bump.
As robots become more humanlike, they’re becoming more like us in other ways, too — they’re showing emotions, fear and even a bit of loneliness. And according to some roboticists, we should welcome these developments as a way of making machines more effective and easier for humans to relate to.
A robot that cares for the lonely elderly.
A robot that cares for the lonely elderly. A robot that helps children with autism learn to make eye contact and express emotion. A robot that teachers kids how to be kind, compassionate and empathetic.
These robots aren’t in the distant future — they’re already working in homes, schools and hospitals today. And they’re teaching us something important about what humans need from other humans: We need care, love and compassion. But we also need kindness, empathy and understanding.
The robots are helping teach these social-emotional skills as part of an effort to do something many parents, teachers and therapists wish was easier: help kids with autism learn to look people in the eye, read facial expressions and understand what others are feeling.
A robot that helps people with vision problems.
A robot that helps people with vision problems. A companion chatbot that helps teens with depression. A telephone-based therapist for people with serious mental illness.
What do these three have in common? They’re all robots that care, love and teach. And they’re all part of an emerging field of research known as affective robotics — the study of machines that interact with people on an emotional level. It’s a field that’s poised to transform our lives.
In the next few years, care robots will be able to take care of some aspects of our well-being, such as assessing our moods and helping us make healthy lifestyle choices. In the longer term, they may even be able to perform surgical procedures or provide us with companionship in our old age when we might otherwise feel lonely or isolated.
A robot that teaches your child to tell the time.
A robot that teaches your child to tell the time. An interactive toy that encourages autistic children to engage with their parents. A machine that helps elderly people regain memories of their past.
Robots that can teach, care and love? It’s all possible, according to leading artificial intelligence professor Tony Belpaeme from Plymouth University in England, who has been studying this field for over a decade.
In the future, he says, robots could become an integral part of our lives and our relationships. They may even be able to replace some of the carers currently working in nursing homes by tending for the elderly or helping young people with special needs.
A robot that relieves loneliness in retirement homes.
A robot that relieves loneliness in retirement homes. A device that teaches children the value of money and the dangers of drugs. A social platform that helps people make friends with those who are different from them. These are just a few of the robots and gadgets being showcased at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this week.
A robot that helps you remember to take your meds.
Smart home products — from devices that let you control your lights and thermostat to appliances that make coffee and toast — are growing in popularity. And for good reason: These devices can save you time, money and stress.
But what if the devices in your home could do more than just help you simplify your life? It’s not too far-fetched to imagine a robot that helps you remember to take your meds. Or a robot that keeps tabs on whether or not you’re taking your antidepressants, or one that checks in with you regularly to make sure you’re doing OK.
A robot that monitors your home for intruders.
The Empathy Robot – A robot that monitors your home for intruders was developed by professor Bilge Mutlu and a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It tracks residents’ movements, detects whether they’re in distress, and then alerts caregivers, family members or emergency services.
A robot that delivers sushi to your work lunch meeting.
You may have seen the robot that delivers sushi to your work lunch meeting. It does this by following a magnetic strip placed on the floor and carrying a camera, lidar, and laser rangefinder. The robot is not autonomous. Someone has to program its route. Someone has to place the strips. At least for now, you need a human to order sushi.
In other words, although faced with the same problems as robot design, those working in healthcare have taken it to the extreme and developed machines that utilize unique interfaces. This can have a huge impact on their ability to teach and provide therapy for patients. These developments are seemingly endless, and will be incredibly important for the future of healthcare!