Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nursebot Pearl, a Robotic Assistant for Older Adults (Video 5:21)

Meet Nursebot Pearl, a robot that will make you rethink your vision of how a caregiver can look and interact with you. Whenever I mention the use of robots for improving the quality of life of older adults, someone feels compelled to remind me that robots can’t replace people. I totally agree. But the reality is that people are living longer, and the population of older adults with ongoing health concerns continues to increase. Those living at home with chronic disorders are particularly in need of support that robotic technology can provide.

Several years ago, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie ‎Mellon University started the Personal Robotic Assistants for the Elderly project, an inter-‎disciplinary multi-university research initiative focused on robotic technology for the ‎elderly. The project goal is to develop mobile, personal-service robots that assist older adults suffering from chronic disorders in their everyday lives. Pearl continues to be researched and improved. The National Science Foundation funds her development.

A talking robot, Pearl’s face has interchangeable parts that display various emotions. Among many tasks, she can help seniors maintain their independence by reminding them about hygiene, medications, doctor’s visits, and other important information they might forget. She can send information remotely to caregivers and provide needed strength for manipulating objects. A major benefit for older adults living alone is the social interaction they can enjoy in her company.

Frances Shani Parker, Author