Wanted: Coach, Companion, Robot

By medGadget

USC's stroke rehab robot prods patients to do exercises.

USC

Statistics show that there are 800,000 new stroke victims every year, a figure that is expected to double over the next 20 years. How will we effectively be able to care for these patients?

That's a question that researchers from the University of Southern California are addressing in a short video piece called "Wanted: Coach. Companion. Robot." The video highlights a future day in the life of a robot they are developing to help stroke victims. Though not named, the robot looks very much like a Bandit 2 model. The device uses multiple imaging modalities, as well as a wrist-worn galvanic sensor on the patient to track a person's vital statistics and the position of the limb being rehabilitated.

What's also somewhat unique about the USC robot is the personality it is given. Rather than merely being a speaking machine, the USC robot interacts almost like an early version of C-3PO, gently responding based on the person's mood. Not only will the robot give you a warm greeting, but during your rehab exercises it'll give you not-so-subtle feedback on your effort ("I may be a robot, but I am not blind"). According to the video below, the robot apparently also has the uncanny ability to change from a cardinal USC hoodie to full workout gear!


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/wanted-coach-companion-robot/255834/