Replaced - By a Robot!!!!

    last update: sunday, march 14, 2004. 2:51pm (aedt)

    i know that the nursing shortage is bad but i never thought it would come to this!!

    robot 'rovers' may help care for ageing population

    furry talking robot "carers" able to raise the alarm if their elderly owner needs help, will play a key role in helping the world's ever-growing ageing population, trials in japan have shown.

    as well as playing faithful companion to older people living alone, this new generation of "live-in" domestic robot will also provide invaluable daily help to the average family - performing tasks from managing the family schedule to problem-spotting to guard dog.

    "the next generation of robots now coming on to the market will improve the daily life of our ageing population," toshikazu muroi from the osaka prefectural government said.

    though many governments are beginning to grapple with the looming problem of facing ever-bigger ever-older legions of retirees, the issue is particularly acute in japan, which has the biggest population of people aged 65 and over of the industrialised nations.

    mr muroi said that recent trials carried out in the osaka region highlighted that cuddly hi-tech carers had a very useful role in providing valuable companionship as well as monitoring the safety of their elderly owners.

    the people taking part in the project "really liked the robots as they are like pets," mr muroi said.

    the world centre for the robotic industry, osaka sent a team of officials to the french riviera city of cannes this month to showcase the region's real estate and science park potential at the influential mipim international property market.

    while industrial robots are already commonplace in factories around the world, used in the construction, welding and automobile businesses, animal pet robots, along with humanoids really resembling human beings, are just beginning to emerge.

    sony's aibo entertainment robot dog has been a huge hit with children since its launch two years ago, while honda motor's ashimo humanoid robot that walks just like a human being, can be seen dancing with a little girl in the car maker's latest commercial.

    honda plans to use ashimo to entertain customers visiting its showrooms but the firm might also be able to use the robot to take the place of human personnel who have to work in dangerous places.

    outside industry, the three main emerging areas where robots have potential are in the home, for surveillance and in the medical arena, mr muroi said.

    robot floor cleaners are already commonplace in japan and are also found in us homes.

    the next step, already under development, is to enable them to move vertically as well as horizontally.

    elsewhere across the world, robot popularity is also growing, with global demand jumping by a best-ever 26 per cent in the first half of 2003 from a year earlier, according to the annual world robotics survey.

    the survey underlined the widening use of robots outside industry.

    "robots are getting into more fields of appliances," thilo brodtmann said, managing director of the international federation of robotics (ifr).

    many of japan's leading industrial and electronic giants, most of them based in and around osaka, are involved in the push for robot power - sanyo electric for example is to launch a house sitter "banryu" robot next month while mitsubishi plans a multi-function robot domestic.

    designed to guard an empty house, sanyo's banryu robot looks more like a streamlined dinosaur than a cuddly pet, though it moves on all fours.

    remotely operated from a mobile phone, it can be commanded to walk and act menacingly as well as transmit real-time images of life inside the home.

    banryu automatically contacts the householder if its internal sensors detect a problem in the home.

    families who do not need a guard dog and would enjoy cohabitation with a more human-looking home-help will have to wait until spring next year when mitsubishi heavy industries brings out its "wakamaru" multi-function robot.

    as well as manageing the weekly schedule, the "wakamaru" will house-sit, spots problems and provide other information needed to run a smooth household.

    robots also offer potential in the medical field, where they can be used for nursing as well as for lifting and transporting patients.

    mr muroi said nurse robots are being developed to take care of a patient's paperwork and record and monitor temperature and medical condition around the clock.

    "they don't need to sleep", he said.

    robotic "patient transfer equipment" meanwhile is being perfected by daihen that would enable patients suffering from conditions such as bone fractures or cerebral haemorrhages to be lifted and moved safely without changing their position or posture.

    another form of transport that could be a boon to the wheelchair-bound was unveiled late last year when tokyo's prestigious waseda university introduced the world's first two-legged walking robot capable of carrying an adult human being.

    few doubt today that robots are here to stay, but analysts say their popularity in the workplace or home is likely to hinge on price.

    a wide range of colourful robot floor cleaners are on sale in shops around japan but cost anything from 600 euros up to 10,000 euros.

    one young woman said after visiting a tokyo store with a view to buying one, "i'll wait for the prices to come down".

    -- afp
  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   NurseHardee
    I have often joked that the hospital corps were looking for robots to replace the bedside nurse, but hey!, it was not really a joke because I knew that it was true. Ideally from an adminstrative point of view, would be a expensive combination bed, patient flipper, and 'car washer' with a feeding and watering add-on extension. Sitting bedside would be a combo computer/ television deliverer of auxiliary 'therapy'. A completely automated care unit! This is the sort of thing that gets the US raves for having the most advanced medical care available in the world!

    We might even look forward to the automated hospital chaplain paying the patents a visit....
  4. by   renerian

  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Some managers trust the Pyxix or SurMed printout so much they will write up a nurse without talking to the others on the shift, pharmacy, or that nurse.
    Once the nurse touched the fingerprint area twice because as she said, "When your hands are cold it doesn't always work."
    Turns out the machine registered two doses removed, Only one charted. The pharmace later "discovered" an extra dose of the same medication. There was NO TRUE DISCREPANCY.

    Robot comoanions that are not childrens toys - getting into SF to me.
    I am trying to arrance my schedule to see this film. Just 3 more days. A bit of a drive, and I was off this weekend. Should have read the sunday paper sooner.

    Winner of 29 awards, "Robot Stories" is science fiction from the heart, four stories starring Tamlyn Tomita ("Joy Luck Club," "Babylon 5") and Sab Shimono ("The Big Hit," "Suture") in which utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies and android office workers. The stories include: "My Robot Baby," in which a couple must care for a robot baby before adopting a human child; "The Robot Fixer," in which a mother tries to connect with her dying son by completing his toy robot collection; "Machine Love," in which an office worker android learns that he, too, needs love; and "Clay," in which an old sculptor must choose between natural death and digital immortality. John Petrakis of the Chicago Tribune calls the film "one of the most moving pieces I've seen all year" while Entertainment Insiders calls it "the kind of science fiction sophisticated audiences crave and deserve."
  6. by   gwenith
    "Sob" and they won't reach our shores for ages yet "sob"

    Maybe it is just my sense of humor but I have a mental image of a robot metal arm extended going "I am here to insert your suppository 'click' your suppository 'click' your suppository......." and the patient standing on the bed gripping the curtains yelling "get that thing away from me!!!" :chuckle
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Go figure--my eldest son off to college in the fall for computer and robotic engineering. Guess he'll have me replaced by the time he graduates....
  8. by   palesarah
    lol NRSKaren!

    I want a robot... one like Teddy in "AI". A walking, talking little furry fella. How cool would that be?
  9. by   NurseHardee
    Shhh, Gwenith! Don't give them any ideas!

    Quote from gwenith
    "Sob" and they won't reach our shores for ages yet "sob"

    Maybe it is just my sense of humor but I have a mental image of a robot metal arm extended going "I am here to insert your suppository 'click' your suppository 'click' your suppository......." and the patient standing on the bed gripping the curtains yelling "get that thing away from me!!!" :chuckle
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    'Companion' robot represents the future in nursing home care
    10/28/2003 6:40 PM
    By: Kristi Nakamura

    The new face of nursing home caregivers has rolled into the Silverado Senior Living Center in Cypresswood.

    It's called the Companion, and California-based InTouch Health is hoping this robot will alleviate the country's shortage of doctors and nurses by allowing for virtual visits across hundreds of miles.
    "A health care professional, a nurse, a trainer can sit down at a care station in California and join the staff here, and then 15 minutes later, join the staff in Salt Lake City, and then 15 minutes later join the staff in a facility 90 miles north of L.A., and accomplish what would have taken days to accomplish by driving," said InTouch representative Tim Wright.
    The Companion is connected to a human counterpart whose face appears on the screen.

    With a joystick, monitor, and a keyboard, a doctor or nurse in another location can see and hear a patient from hundreds of miles away and make a recommendation or diagnosis.
    InTouch Health officials say the Companion is not meant to replace doctors, nurses and other caregivers, it's meant to help health care experts who are already spread thin see and answer questions for multiple patients in multiple places without hopping on a plane, sitting in traffic or driving for hours.
    "So this is a means to bring clinical experts into communities like Silverado at the very easy drop of a hat, by just simply logging on," said InTouch representative Mark Mostow.
    And so far the response from patients and their families is positive.
    "If it's right here and they can take him over in front of it and get some medical advice, rather than taking him out to a doctor and sitting in a waiting room and waiting and waiting, then, I mean, how much better can it get?" said Susan Skains, a patient's daughter.
    Skains may not believe it, but Silverado officials say there are still better features to come.
    They are hopeful that in the future, the Companion will not just be used for medical visits. The next step is to use the robot to help family members in other states visit their loved ones at the home more frequently.
  11. by   pickledpepperRN
    The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service

    First robot moved by muscle power

    18:17 27 February 04

    Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

    A silicon microrobot just half the width of a human hair has begun to crawl around in a Los Angeles lab, using legs powered by the pulsing of living heart muscle. It is the first time muscle tissue has been used to propel a micromachine.

    This distinctly futuristic development could lead to muscle-based nerve stimulators that would allow paralysed people to breathe without the help of a ventilator. And NASA which is funding the research hopes swarms of crawling "musclebots" could one day help maintain spacecraft by plugging holes made by micrometeorites.

    Whatever the ultimate applications of the technology, no one was more surprised to see the tiny musclebots finally move than Carlos Montemagno, the microengineer whose team is developing them at the University of California, Los Angeles
    He has spent three disappointing years trying, and failing, to harness living muscle tissue to propel a micromachine. But when he and his team looked into their microscopes, they were amazed to see the latest version of their musclebot crawling around.
    The device is an arch of silicon 50 micrometres wide. Attached to the underside of the arch, the team has grown a cord of heart muscle fibres (see graphic). It is the contraction and relaxation of this cardiac tissue that makes the arch bend and stretch to produce the bot's crawling motion. And the muscle is fuelled by a simple glucose nutrient in a Petri dish.

    Arch-shaped skeleton
    The prospect of using living muscle to power microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is an attractive alternative to micromotors. While motors need electricity, muscles can draw their energy from glucose - perhaps deposited on the surface where the robot will be working.
    The UCLA team's breakthrough is to have developed an automated way of anchoring muscle tissue to a substance like silicon. The team carved an arch-shaped skeleton from a wafer of silicon using automated microchip manufacturing equipment, and coated it with an etchable polymer.
    They then etched away the coating on the underside of the arch and deposited a gold film there. This acts as an adherent for the muscle cells. To grow the muscle, the skeleton was placed in a Petri dish containing rat cardiac muscle cells in a glucose culture medium. Over three days, the muscle cells grew into muscle fibres that attached themselves to the gold underside, forming a cable of cardiac muscle running the length of the arch.
    During this process, the arch was held in place by a restraining beam. When this was removed the musclebot immediately started crawling at speeds up to 40 micrometres per second. The geometry of the musclebot ensures that its flexing pushes it in one direction, rather than simply contracting and relaxing on the spot.

    Phrenic nerve
    Montemagno now wants to use the technology to help people who have damaged phrenic nerves. These stimulate the diaphragm to make us breathe and damage means patients often need ventilators instead.
    Rather than moving the legs of a musclebot, the muscle fibres would flex a piece of piezoelectric material and generate a few millivolts to stimulate the phrenic nerve. Using cells from the patient's own heart would prevent rejection of the implant, and the muscle could be powered by blood glucose.
    Montemagno's initial brief from NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts was to design a muscle-powered micromachine that could seek and repair micrometeorite punctures on spacecraft.
    However, he stresses that such applications are several decades away. "The issue of all of the microbots talking to one another hasn't even been addressed," he stresses. Or, indeed, how they would be fuelled. Watch out for the sugar-coated space station.

    Anil Ananthaswamy
  12. by   NRSKarenRN
    Son's high school robotic club in second place in Philadelphia FIRST robotic competition and going to nationals in Georgia next month.

    With his commitment to robotics I can see I'll definately be replaced within the next 10 years...but can they include my jokes to patients, or food, stops at drugstores, dog walking, supply transport---all good things homecare nurses do.
  13. by   Rustyhammer
    I know some facility admins that could easily be replaced. Probably would save a bundle of $$ too.