Aging and Technology: A Robotic Future?

Alissa
Aging and Technology

When you read the news today, it’s hard not to come across an article mentioning the growing Artificial Intelligence market, and other technological improvements. While a robotic future can be interesting to think about, have you ever thought that robots may just be the future of aging not only in the U.S., but across the world as well?

It’s easy to dismiss these ideas as too far off to happen within your lifetime. Realistically though, these advancements may not be as far off as you may think.

Today, robots are used in many different professions and settings. Some of you may have a robotic vacuum at home to help ease your cleaning duties. Many hospitals are incorporating robots to deliver medications or other necessities. Some schools even offer robotic assistants that allow sick or bedridden students to attend classes via a robotic system with FaceTime like technology.

When it comes to aging, there’s already plenty of robotic technology available or in the works to help make day to day activities easier.

One of the most popular today are stationary robots. Just as it sounds, these robots aren’t mobile, but rather sit on a tabletop or counter top at home. They’re usually voice activated, and can usually be connected to other electronics in your home via Bluetooth, allowing you to turn on the radio, lights, or television without getting up. They can also help by reminding users when to take a medication, or by allowing the user to verbally send an email or answer a text message. The Amazon Echo, and Google Home products are just some examples of popular stationary robots on the market today.

Another type of robot that could be useful to aging seniors are telepresence robots. These robots offer up a visual element in the form of an integrated tablet interface. This tablet is typically connected to a motorized stand, which automatically adjusts height changes, and in some instances, can follow the user from room to room. These robots allow users to chat with loved ones face to face, even if they are in another town, state or country. The two-way visual component can also give relatives peace of mind, as they can display the senior’s environment, ensuring that they are safe, and well taken care of. While telepresence robots aren’t as popular as stationary robots, some examples include Ohmni and Double.

As technology moves forward, interactive robots are another type of robot that are becoming more common. Though the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an interactive robot may be Rosie the Robot Maid from The Jetsons, not all interactive robots are that advanced. For example, some interactive robots, such as PARO, can respond to touch and sound, and even has the ability to display emotion, providing companionship and easing anxiety in older users, and even those affected by Dementia. Other interactive robots have the ability to monitor the user’s health to gain information that can be sent off to the user’s respective doctors. While models that can assist with chores or cooking may be in the works, they aren’t available to the public just yet.

Aside from those we’ve listed, there are many other robotic assistants and companions out there, specifically geared towards making life easier, especially for seniors. As an SRES® you have access to articles that give even more information on current robotic models that are available.

As robots become more and more integrated into society, it makes you wonder what other advancements are yet to come. Flying cars? New forms of energy? Your guess is as good as ours!