The Old Meeting the New
The Old Meeting the New
By: Anthea Mislan
Technology to help to often neglected people in our society: the elderly.
Artificial intelligence and robotics are fairly new on the market; the first one developed merely 1961 in t General Motors Plant. With a fast advancing technological society, a futuristic world like that in The Jetsons was beginning to seem as if it could become a reality. Our society continued its development in this area, and today, automated objects are an everyday experience. Everything from voice-activated cell phones, to motion censored lights, to automated vacuum cleaners enhance our everyday living by making it a lot easier. The question still remains, though, what about the people who are not in the age range where these items are used? Although many people do own cell phones, and they are becoming more sophisticated everyday, the ones who were around before these advancements in technology have not taken hold of this advancing piece of technology. My grandparents, for instance, can’t even see the numbers to call someone, let alone receive and read a text message, or write one for that matter! The robotics and artificial intelligence today have somewhat shifted focus towards the elderly, being able to care for them in more ways than a visiting family member could. With the dramatically advancing market, anything seems possible, but for now we can just keep giving our love to those in need, because the robot that can do it all unfortunately does not exist yet.
Selfishly yes, I would like to have robots catering to my every need, giving me massages and making me deliciously tasty meals, but when I make myself stop to think about the actual potential that they have to do some real good in the world, I feel that I’m able to set aside my wants, for others’ more important needs. I would sleep so well at night knowing that Grandma was safely tucked into bed; although, I’d be kind of scared if I was grandma, alone in a house with a smart robot, I’m sure they’ll work something out. The robots capable of caring for the elderly are still being developed, and not without kinks to work out, but the ones currently being designed and creative can manage some pretty nifty tasks. The Wakamuru, designed by Mitsubishi, is already available for purchase in Japan! This wheel-driven robot has an extensive vocabulary and the ability to recognize faces. Its internal alarm clock can do any necessary reminders, for the elderly these reminders may include any appointments, or to take any medications, and its arms can fetch things, like the medications that they reminded them to take, if they are not able. It’s robots like the “Wakamuru” that are the future of independence for many elderly. Not to mention the “EMIEW” designed by Hitachi, and able to carry out some simple household chores. Not only will it clean the house, but it also comes along with voice recognition, so one is able to yell from bed, let’s say, if they forgot to do something, like turn off any lights! Both of these robots, however, come second to a Japanese developed “RI-MAN”. He will improve with technology, but the beginnings of a greatly skilled robot can be seen in the arm strength, that can lift up to 77 lbs. at the moment. Now, that could be a small elderly person, and technology is only getting better so it can only get stronger! Another nifty aspect of this robot is that it is covered in silicone skin, so it makes the ride to bed for any lucky person even more comfortable. When the individual powers of these robots can come together, the future will be unstoppable.
Whether robots are fixing us up a delicious chocolate sundae for us, or caring for our dearly close relatives, I think they will only become even more involved with our lives as time goes on, considering the strides it’s made in the past fifty years. A robot staying with the elderly can be not only a helper but a companion as well. When family members are not available to visit, a robot friend to stay in the home can be a great way to keep independent, and out of a nursing home. As technology develops even more, the robots will become stronger and more powerful, becoming capable of more things than we could have imagined. Maybe one day the robots will be advanced enough to take care of everyone… as long as they don’t take over the world.