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Below are three different types that are relevant in the health sector, the technologies already mentioned like exoskeletons are ignored. Therapy robots and nursing robots belong to the category of specialized service robots and are designed and programmed for their respective application areas. It is interesting that also service robots are being used which have actually nothing to do with healthcare, whereby some of them are extended by programming.
These are referred to as assistant robots, where this term also designates a subset of the service robots and can even include therapy and nursing robots. In each category, examples are singled out and their technical possibilities are presented.
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The list is not complete, but the examples are among the best known in this area, as a literature analysis has shown Becker et al. Therapy robots support therapeutic measures or apply them themselves, often as autonomous machines Sedenberg ; Bendel a; Bendel ; Bendel a. They do exercises with the injured and paralyzed, entertain the elderly and challenge demented or autistic persons with questions and games. Some have mimic, gestural and linguistic abilities and are - to a certain extent - capable of thinking and learning if you want to apply these terms to computer systems.
Advantages include possible savings and reusability, disadvantages are possible adverse effects in therapy and lack of acceptance among relatives. The artificial seal Paro , which has been in use for years in therapy facilities and nursing homes all around the world, and designed especially for people with dementia, is well-known even among non-affected groups Bendel ; Glende et al. It understands its name or the name you give it , remembers how well or badly it is treated and how often it has been stroked, and expresses its feelings which it does not really have, of course through sounds and movements.
It can whimper, prop up on its flippers and raise its head. Paro is not mobile and has sensors for brightness, temperature and sounds. Also well-known is Keepon by BeatsBots, a yellow robot that is supposed to monitor and improve the social interaction of autistic children. It is meanwhile available on the mass market - probably because it looks funny, likes to be tickled and can dance. Keepon is very small, not mobile and equipped with microphone, cameras and touch sensors. The humanoid Milo as a variant of Zeno a product of Hanson Robotics is also aimed at autistic children.
It is as big as a toddler, can walk and talk and has mimic and gestural skills. A touchscreen and a camera sit in its chest. It has eight microphones that enable it to determine through localization who exactly is addressing it. Care and nursing robots complement or substitute human caregivers Bendel a; Bendel a; van Wynsberghe They supply the necessary medicines, food and garments to those in need of care, and help them to lay down and to sit up, and to transfer them to another bed. They entertain patients and provide auditory and visual interfaces to human carers.
Some of them have natural language skills that can in principle consist of several languages, which may be relevant in this context, and are, to a certain extent, intelligent, able to memorize or capable of learning. The advantages are continuous applicability and consistent quality of service. Disadvantages are cost intensity and lack of human contacts.
Originally conceived for the health sector, it can now often be seen without arms and named Paul in shopping malls in Switzerland and in Germany. Care-O-bot 4 has a loudspeaker, microphones for speech recognition and cameras for face recognition and recognition of gestures.
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Via its display, it can show different moods, for example via facial expressions in a virtual face. It is a networked system. Robear previous versions RIBA and RIBA-II by Riken , so like a bear to look at as its name promises, and almost as heavy, large and strong as such an animal, works in tandem with the caregiver and assists in the rebedding and raising of the patients.
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It can roll around and features torque sensors and tactile sensors, plus cameras and a microphone. It has an arm and a hand with two fingers, like classical cooperation and collaboration robots in the industry Bendel b. The gripper has sensors. It can fulfil its function in both nursing and therapy.
Lio, another product of this company, has a camera for person and object recognition, a sensitive case with touch sensors and an interactive display for communication. Assistant robots have support functions, information functions, navigation functions, entertainment and game features.
Just as Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant help their owners or users, they help them with all kinds of tasks. The difference is that they are physically present and partially mobile Siri is also mobile in a certain way, because she provides her services on the smartphone, but, as a virtual assistant, she does not herself move through the physical world. In the given context, assistant robots inform patients, entertain them and show them movements. One advantage is that they are generalists, which in turn is a disadvantage, because only specialists can handle certain tasks.
A robot of this type, which is used all over the world, is Pepper by SoftBank. It is a companion robot, which lives in households in Japan. It is, as its name suggests, a family member, friend and companion. But this is not enough for it. Pepper appears increasingly in schools and universities, as well as in nursing and retirement homes and hospitals, and informs and entertains patients and elderly people. Pepper is as big as a child, rolls around, has two arms and two hands with five highly movable fingers.
It speaks with a cute robot voice. A touch screen is located in its chest.
Pepper has four microphones, two HD cameras and a distance sensor and is WiFi capable. It can identify certain persons with the help of face recognition and it masters the analysis of facial expressions and gestures, as well as voice analysis. Thus, it is able to detect emotions and re-spond accordingly. Below, an ethical discussion will be conducted, starting from the concrete technical equipment, with the use of literature analysis Denning et al. Thus, the focus is on reality, and it can be avoided to lose oneself arbitrarily. Several robots have cameras, partly connected with face recognition, recognition of facial expressions and gestures, others have microphones, sometimes associated with speech and voice recognition.
Different systems are networked, connected with the cloud or with internal and external systems. In addition, a few are mobile. Thus, four technical categories can be identified, which go hand in hand with ethical challenges. Cameras allow still pictures and moving images of the visible world.
After all, the optical sensors of Paro allow the distinction between light and dark areas. Thermal imaging cameras could open up more opportunities in the future.
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