KIST’s Center for Intelligent Robotics (CIR) is developing a robot for the elderly “silver generation” called Sil-bot (aka H-robot). The robot was designed with an expressive face (blinking eyes and moving lips), and has typical face recognition and speech functions allowing it to communicate. The robot can detect its owner’s voice from 3 meters (10 feet) away and move to that location. Simple conversational capabilities along with various interactive games have been co-developed with Seoul National University Medical Center specifically to help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some of the games include memory, arithmetic, and reflex training exercises, as well as mahjong (which requires an optional touchscreen).
The goal is to create a constant companion that helps to encourage an active, healthy body and mind. As usual, the idea here is to ease the health care workload associated with a rapidly aging population. Besides playing games, it will remind patients when to take their meds and can maintain a schedule. Field trials at Masan Welfare Hall have been completed, and the robot is being introduced as an educational assistant in Korean primary schools, where trials are currently underway.
The penguin-like robot is 80cm (2’7″) tall and weighs 90kg (198 lbs), and is equipped with stereo vision. It can autonomously return to its charging station when it gets low on juice. Some of the robots have been modified for use as telepresence robots for English teachers, who appear on a video screen where the head used to be. The trials will determine whether a national program should be rolled out. An individual Sil-bot costs 40,000,000 KRW ($34,800 USD), but Prof. Kim (head of CIR) says the cost should come down with mass production. Kim has previously worked on KIST’s T-Rot among many others.
[source: Chosun (KR)]