We at Medgadget love to rely on primary sources (when press releases aren’t available). So when we heard about the Japanese Robot Awards we went right to the source, and via the beta Google Translator, we bring you the story of two new devices that may make a difference in the lives of elderly and debilitated patients (“may” , because we’re frankly not sure if the translator works on the top two items on this page).
First up, some furry friends that are either 1) used to simulate the soothing, cardioprotective benefits of pet ownership for elderly folks or 2) hand crafted from the bodies of elderly folks. You decide:
The robot which designates the therapy in the pet substitution and medical welfare institution with general home as purpose. The surface tactual sense sensor and the like which covers the entire body the various sensor, it has possessed the learning function of smooth operation, autonomous conduct, name and the conduct by the calm type actuator. While corresponding to use environment and condition to possess high safety, hygienic characteristic, convenience and durability, it has the high quality of handmade 1 bodies at a time. Approximately 800 bodies are utilized so far in the country. In the future, the schedule which is developed in the foreign country.
Another notable prize: if you are unable to carry out the primordial function of bringing food to your mouth, but can somehow operate a joystick, this machine can provide you with gruel:
The robot which supports the independence of the meal of the inconvenient senior citizen handicapped person of the hand. With joystick operation of the user, the food in the meal tray is carried to oral. You can eat, various ones such as gruel and tofu other than the usual boiled rice and the cooked food and the salad. Adjusting to the condition of the user, the joystick and operation mode of 3 types (manual operation, semi-automatic and automatic operation) it can choose. Not only Japan, you sell even in Europe such as Holland.
Why is Japan so obsessed with robots? MIT’s Technology Review points to an economic reason (though this doesn’t explain Tranzor-Z cartoons):
Robots are seen in Japan as one way to deal with a rapidly aging population and combat an impending labor shortage. The country’s population of 127 million is expected to plunge 30 percent by 2055, with those aged 65 or older making up 40 percent of that figure, according to government forecasts released earlier this week.
Amid a general reluctance to accept more foreign laborers, robots are seen as a way to make up the shortfall in manpower either directly or by helping older people work longer. Robots could also help care for the country’s growing elderly population, analysts say.
If you’re curious, the Technology Review article has a more reliable summary (who’s their translator?) of the Robot Award winners.