Robotics in Healthcare Reduce Loneliness and Promote Health
Robotics in healthcare isn’t just limited to medical laboratories. Companion robots like Pillo — complete with bright blue eyes, a big smile, and knowledge of a patient’s medical needs — can help combat loneliness and promote good health.
Loneliness Plagues the Elderly
Humans are social creatures — connecting with others is important. But as people age, they often are left alone, which can make them vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. Health problems can result, such as cognitive decline, depression, and even heart disease. Losing connections and community changes a person’s perception of the world. The elderly start to feel threatened and mistrustful of others.
Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these effects. Engaging in meaningful, productive activities boosts moods and gives the elderly a sense of purpose. Higher levels of social engagement can reduce stress, fight off dementia, and improve cognitive function. To help, researchers have developed companion robots to bring meaning back to older ones who are lonely.
Older adults are open to using technology, but email, smartphones, and social networks don’t offer all the help they need. Since social networking sites were initially developed for younger users, they aren’t necessarily good communication channels for the elderly. Absorbing harmful information, being affected by the dangerous behavior of others, and sharing personal information with nefarious individuals can backfire on the elderly.
Pillo Fights Loneliness and Offers Health Benefits
Pillo’s friendly features are complemented with an in-depth knowledge of a patient’s medical history. Artificial intelligence programming lets Pillo use its camera to track the patient’s face. The companion robot can even offer words of encouragement to promote good health and dole out medication.
Pillo has a great depth of health-related knowledge. Pillo can count calories, log exercise goals, and sync up with wearable electronics. Pillo is happy to chat with users and will even contact family members in case of an emergency. Funding more human care workers isn’t sustainable for many countries with aging populations. That’s why many are turning to robotics for solutions.
Robots Can Be Social Companions
Social robots are viewed as helpful companions. Many think they’re useful, entertaining, and provide good companionship. These companion robots encourage natural interactions and display nonverbal cues that increase people’s engagement with and trust of these robots.
When developing companion robots, engineers and designers must work to ensure that their users’ desires, preferences, and boundaries are considered. Care is also required to design these intelligent technologies that are part of human-AI teams.