Robots, robots at CES: ElliQ, Sophia the ‘humanoid’, companions, pets, butlers, maids…and at a supermarket near you?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Overrun-by-Robots1-183×108.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]CES as usual was a Robot Showcase, though without the presence of our recent Spotlight Robot Kompaï.  One of our other Spotlighters, Intuition Robotics‘ ElliQ companion robot, won the CES Best of Innovation Award in the Smart Home category (release).

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/sophia-header.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Much press went to Hanson Robotics’ Sophia, a Frubber-skinned humanoid robot from Hong Kong. It (She?) sees through cameras and sensors, through them recognizes speech and facial expressions, responds through natural language processing, and has a motion control system. It started walking on its own at CES courtesy of DRC-HUBO-developed legs. Its creator David Hanson, backed by Disney (Animatronics!) looks forward to an adult-level of general intelligence via AI development for future uses such as customer service, caring for children or older adults, or therapy. It has the ‘uncanny valley’ problem of verging on lifelike. The BBC interviewed Sophia at CES. (No, they didn’t sign her to be a presenter.) SFGate. The AI crowd in Silicon Valley and Facebook’s AI head with the interesting name of Yann LeCun performed a Two-Minute Hate about her to a rather partisan writer in The Verge. (Not Invented Here Syndrome? Perhaps they’re just envious.)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/aibo.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Most of CES’ robots were a Parade of Cute and When Not Cute, Wistful. Or Not Working. Sony’s brought back the Aibo robot dog out of its 2006 retirement with the ERS 1000, which lacks only a non-shed coat to be puppy-like. According to the WSJ, $1,700 will make Aibo your companion–and it doesn’t need food or walking. Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy is a family companion, control point for connected homes, and security monitor. You might trip over it and the $1,500 cost. More in the utility line is Ubtech Robotics’ Walker which, unlike the Walker of ‘Point Blank’, isn’t looking for his $93,000 but will walk point around your house for security, connect you to your home controls, and ‘butler’ your appointments, emails, and video calls. The maid’s duties will be done by the Aeolus Robot, which will sweep, pick up and put away your things, and also do some assistant work. Honda’s 3E robots are Transformer-like for more commercial duties like assistants, smart scooters, and carriers. A more here-and-now robot addressing a major need is another robotic glove for those with hand or mobility restrictions, the leather glove-like NeoMano.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Pepper-faints.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Not every robot was on their best behavior. Going on the fritz were LG’s CLOi smart home controller–on stage, no less. YYD’s latest robot, not only a home assistant but also a health status/chronic disease monitor, died into screen code in front of a BBC reporter. One of Softbank’s Pepper robots (left) was so overwhelmed by the excitement of CES that it fainted. Perhaps time to return to the calm of the Ostend, Belgium hospital? [TTA 21 June 16] Wired UK, South China Morning Post, CNet

Back in the Real World. Welcomed into Scottish supermarket chain Margiotta was ‘ShopBot’, dubbed Fabio. In an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University for the BBC’s Six Robots & Us (UK viewers only), Fabio was programmed with directions to hundreds of items in the store. It had an abundance of cute. Customers initially liked Fabio. Unfortunately, its conversational quality and conveyance of information were sorely lacking. For instance, Fabio told customers to go to the ‘alcohol section’ when they wanted beer. (Now if they wanted Scotch….) On top of it, its mobility was limited, and the disability laws don’t apply. So the Margiottas sacked Fabio, with regrets but no severance, after one week on the job. Oh. Telegraph (paywalled), Yahoo News UK

South Korea’s ambivalence towards telemedicine

The surprising reasons why. 5.8 million South Koreans aren’t exactly tech-phobic, enjoying a nationally swift internet backbone and high personal smartphone penetration. The home of the two leading smartphone makers is pioneering mobile-first retailing and a national IoT network. South Korea (SK) also has the need–an aging population living in rural areas. Yet South Korea bans doctor-patient virtual visits in their Medical Act, and expects major demonstrations by doctors and activists when it comes up for a vote later this year in their National Assembly. Telemedicine and also telehealth/RPM may happen eventually, backed by powerhouses like SK Telecom, Samsung and LG, but will have to take into consideration some unique circumstances:

  • Cyberattacks from North Korea, which have already hit a Seoul university hospital’s software security contractor and demonstrated their system’s HIT vulnerabilities
  • The government’s glitch-ridden telemedicine pilot program with serious problems in data management, encryption and weak passwords
  • The fear that only the rich will be able to afford it–and in SK’s split system, the fear that funding may be withdrawn from the extensive network of community clinics instead of benefiting them

Medical professionals, including the 100,000 doctors in the KMA who successfully blocked telemedicine in 2014 and haven’t participated in the pilot program, are calling for “a slower, more collaborative plan of attack that establishes safety protocols and smart regulatory oversight.”  Quartz

The smartphone as great healthcare leveler: Eric Topol

Eric Topol MD, cardiologist, Chief Medical Advisor for the rebooted (but so far quiet) AT&T ForHealth and Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health, is no stranger to the ‘big statement’ and is well known as an advocate for all things mHealthy. For at least two years, he has been promoting the smartphone’s ‘equalizer’ capabilities in health not only via apps and ‘add ons’ but also as a storehouse or central repository for individual health information, including genetic screening, which can be transmitted onward to a practitioner, lab or PHR. Dr Topol’s ‘big statements’ were fully on display in his keynote at HealthLeaders’ CFO Exchange conference. A promoter of the ‘creative destruction of medicine’ (the title of his most recent book, WSJ article), he believes that everything from the office visit (virtualized) (more…)

LG’s Kizon child tracker debuts

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Kizon-LG.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /] Just in time for school start in North America and Europe is LG‘s September intro of the Kizon bracelet for keeping track of your small child through an Android app. This child-friendly, colorful (but a little bulky) wristband seems to pack a lot into a one-button package: GPS/Wi-Fi tracking, 2G/3G cellular ability for the child to call out to a pre-loaded phone number and to accept calls from pre-approved numbers. And it appears to be a water and stain-resistant watch as well. LG is marketing to parents of pre-school and primary/elementary school children but pricing is not available. It’s a big change stylistically from the GPS trackers like Lok8u which have typically been marketed for primarily autistic children and others at risk. Launch will be in South Korea this week according to BBC News. Is there an opportunity to use this with older people as well?

Editor Chrys on background:

The idea of using mobile phones for tracking kids goes way back to around 2003. The earliest service I know of was one called Child Locate and was launched in the UK by Jon Magnusson. It was intended for parents to track kids (or rather their phones) on a map on the internet. Child Locate has now morphed into Mobile Locate and tracks any mobile device and  claims 100,000+ users.

The other service that comes to mind straight away is Disney Mobile – Disney’s MVNO over Sprint. In 2006 Disney launched what seems a great idea at the time – a service for parents to track kids – the Family Center. Similar to Child Locate this service allowed parents to locate the mobile on a map, plus limit call and text spending. It was launched with two handsets, one from, wait for it – LG and the other from now almost bankrupt third largest Korean handset company Pantech. So LG was dabbling in this in 2005/6. Disney Mobile had plans to expand to UK over the O2 network though that never materialised. Disney Mobile closed down a year later.

The Kizon may look cute at first glance but it is definitely not unobtrusive. When my neighbour’s 18-month-old is playing Peppa Pig incessantly on her iPad I think LG’s marketing department is behind times thinking they can get a Western kid to be tracked by her dad for everyone to see. Make no mistake Korea and Japan are the leading nations for high tech consumer products but the psychology of those countries don’t work here. Having worked for a leading Japanese company I have seen this from the inside. If this takes off in London I’ll eat my hat – even if I have to buy a hat to eat!

The CES of Health (Thursday)

Beaucoup fitness bands and wearables, an ‘all-in-one’ glucose meter and finally, a lack of hype!

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/razer-nabu-main-banner.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Mobihealthnews rounds up 18 mobile health launches in a slideshow format (a bit difficult to page through). It’s heavy on fitness monitor bands and wearables from well-known and startup companies at price points from the $100 range up well past $400:  Sony, LG, Garmin, Polar, Razer, Virgin Pulse (clipon), Lumo, iFit, Movea, Wellograph and Epson. (Also see Medgadget’s roundup if you can’t get enough!) Outside of fitness monitors: from China’s iHealth Lab (Andon Health), a blood pressure monitoring vest, an ambulatory ECG device that supposedly sticks to the wearer’s bare chest (no FDA approvals yet); Zensorium Tinke’s pulse oximeter plus for Android (seen by this Editor at New York CES in November 2012), the Qualcomm Life-backed YoFiMeter cellular glucose meter (more below) and the Medissimo Medipac GPS tracking pill box from France. Already covered here: Withings Aura, Qardio, Mother, Kolibree. (more…)