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Next steps in health & medicine — where can technology take us? | Daniel Kraft | TEDxBerlin

Next steps in health & medicine — where can technology take us? | Daniel Kraft | TEDxBerlin

  • As the population ages, it becomes more and more important to help enhance individuals’ experience of later life, and allow people to live independently for longer. We are developing two types of robot for this purpose, companion robots and assistive robots.
  • Companion robots, such as one we’ve created called MiRo ‒ the name is derived from the term “Mimetic Robot” ‒ are like smart pets. They can move around a room, you can talk to them and they will respond, and that’s important. A large part of the problem of older people living alone is the psychological aspect. MiRo won’t replace a person, but can fulfil a similar role to that of a pet, but without the associated responsibilities.
  • Such robots can be programmed to carry out simple tasks. You can ask them, “have you seen my glasses?” or “where is the remote?” and they can find it. But they’re also aware of what you’re doing, and can be a conduit to the outside world that can alert someone if something happens to you.
  • This robot can move around the house, adjust its height, it can take a cup of coffee from one room into another, it can remind you to take your medication and bring it to you from another room.
  • This is just the start of what robots will be able to do in the future ‒ in Japan they have developed robots that can lift patients out of bed, and move them from one room to another ‒ at the moment these are expensive and operate via remote control, not autonomously. One of the key obstacles we need to overcome is designing an autonomous dextrous hand and arm that can carry out multiple tasks.
  • We can design a robot that can be programmed to make lobster bisque but that’s all it can do so far. But certainly, I can see a point when a robot will be able to order the ingredients that it needs to make a fish pie, unpack them, make you a meal, serve it and clear away.
  • However it’s really important to recognise that robots are not going to be a silver bullet, they’re part of the solution, not the whole solution, and they’re certainly not an alternative to humans, they’re an adjunct, and that’s what the future of healthcare is going to look like: robots working alongside humans, augmenting care.
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