France’s Kompaï robotics, which Editor Steve first profiled in May 2011 (!), is still developing assistive robots for older adults, the disabled, and their caregivers. In another instance of technology integration and crossover into an area other than healthcare, they are a finalist in one of 5 consortia of 16 companies competing in the European FABULOS challenge to develop an automated minibus. Kompaï is partnering with Actia Automobile as the Kompai-Actia Consortium. Phase 1 of FABULOS starts 1 January with a feasibility study with conclusions for the start of prototype development. In autumn, the consortia will move to lab testing prototypes with real-world testing of the final three starting March 2020 in Estonia, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. The R&D is being financed by the European Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme with a total fund of over €5,5 million. FABULOS release.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/103886629_mediaitem103886628.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Perhaps this Editor should have been less credulous. Somewhere, this Editor failed to notice a mention in the press she picked up that Pepper’s Question Time before the Commons select committee on education had been fully prearranged and scripted. (Thank you and a Big Tip of The Hat to reader Alistair Appleby for pointing that out.) It made Pepper’s appearance a little less than All That Sensational–more like a pre-recording delivered by an automaton prompted through a Middlesex University student’s smartphone.
Mr. Appleby provided a link to a Wired UK article that bears close reading. It sharply critiques not only the presentation, but also the trivialization of what the select committee was really examining, which was the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of large-scale automation and its disruptive effects on the work of the all-too-near future.
Wired‘s reporter Gian Volpicelli sat in the front row and acidulously observed that Pepper’s appearance was a PR stunt that detracted from the substantive (I think) conversation that preceded it.
“For one hour before Pepper’s triumphal entrance, three experts from UCL, Nesta and Siemens engaged just in that kind of nuanced, data-based, academic conversation with the Committee’s MPs. They studiously tackled issue after unresolved issue, from AI bias, to education reform, to pure epistemology. “What is knowledge? Why should we believe something?,” asked UCL professor Rose Luckin at one point. “What a wonderful philosophical discourse,” committee member William Wragg MP would remark – under the austere blue gaze of Maggie Thatcher’s portrait. “
It does sound like the usual academic drift-off into La La Land, making it a discussion on Big Issues That Make Your Head Hurt because they have a thousand possible outcomes out of H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley, but what is remarkable is that neither BBC News nor the Guardian saw fit to mention the experts’ testimony.
Mr. Volpicelli rightly labels Pepper’s appearance a media stunt that gained all the attention versus a real discussion about the societal effect of future robots. Will it be the Pepper-future of cute machines that can perform few tasks and are non-threatening? Will it be the Atlas-future, the one projected by Boston Dynamics’ humanoid athlete-robot that does parkour and skillfully leaps large boxes, funded by DARPA to be a search and rescue robot? Will the future belong to the weirdly humanoid Frubber-skinned Sophia, who fell into the ‘uncanny valley’ at CES last January [TTA 23 Jan] — the same CES where Pepper ‘fainted’ to a non-working slump (schlump?) More than likely, it will be the robotic arm that flips and bags the fast-food burger that is more of the immediate future–and displacing low-wage workers–than any of the above. We need to have a very serious chat about Pepper’s pointless parliamentary pantomime
Pepper pays a first-ever robot visit to Commons on the future of AI and robotics on education, older adult care (UK)
Certainly his introduction has some historic value. Pepper bowed and then said in his rather high-pitched and somewhat Japanese-inflected voice: “Good morning, chair [Robert Halfon]. Thank you for inviting me to give evidence today. My name is Pepper and I am a resident robot at Middlesex University.”
Pepper used voice, gesture, and his embedded front tablet to explain about the role robots like him will play in education and healthcare. At Middlesex, final year students in robotics, education, psychology, and biomedicine like Joana Miranda, one of his two escorts, work with Pepper on projects such as developing numeracy skills in primary school students. According to BBC News, Tory MP Lucy Allan dryly noted that Pepper was “better than some of the ministers we have had before us”.
In healthcare for older adults, the Pepper robot developed by Softbank is part of a major research project funded by the EU, the Japanese Government and UK’s Horizon 2020. The objective of the three-year CARESSES program is to develop a culturally aware robot to provide care suited to a wide variety of individuals and reduce loneliness. Another desired outcome is to relieve pressure in hospitals and care homes by promoting independent living at home with a care robot.
The education committee is examining the “fourth industrial revolution” which impacts STEM education, school curriculum, and workforce skills (and reskilling). Videos on BBC News and Gevul News (YouTube) A tart take on Pepper versus PM Theresa May from The Guardian. (And no fainting, as Pepper did at CES earlier this year.) Hat tip to The King’s Fund weekly newsletter.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/paro1jpg.jpg.size-custom-crop.1086×0.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]I have a problem with that cute, robotic seal cub PARO.
More accurately, I have a problem with the ethics of the business model of the Japanese company that makes it, Intelligent System Co. Ltd.
PARO started development in 1993 and the first English press release was in 2004 – a year before Telehealth and Telecare Aware started! Since then the indications that PARO is good for people with dementia have been building and building, as Editor Donna most recently highlighted in this item: PARO therapy robot tested, cleared by NHS for — hygiene.
I have no problem believing, as Donna summarised, “the research has shown that it lowers stress and anxiety, promotes social interaction, facilitates emotional expression, and improves mood and speech fluency.”
However, in response to an enquiry last week, it was confirmed to me that neither price or delivery time information is available but that PARO seals continue to be made individually, by hand. This is a huge production bottleneck and cost.
It is entirely proper for a company that produces handmade cars to have high prices and long waiting lists for their rich man’s toys but I am completely at a loss to conjure up any justification to apply that thinking to PARO. (PARO cost $6,400 in 2017.)
I believe that the insistence that PARO continues to be made in this way is an unethical denial of a benefit to millions of people.
Does Intelligent System not have the will or the skill to scale up production and bring down the cost so that every care home or dementia ward could acquire a PARO (or even a ‘PARO lite’) within a few years? If not, they should license it to a company that can.
At least they should stop pretending that PARO is benefiting people with dementia when it reaches so few.
This Telehealth and Telecare Aware Soapbox item is the personal opinion of TTA founder and Editor Emeritus Steve Hards.
Japan’s population is the oldest on average in the world, with over 27 percent of its population aged over 65 and the highest average life expectancy at 83.7 years. Writer Shiho Fukada spent a year researching aging tech supported by the Pulitzer Center. In STAT, he profiles innovation in two areas we’ve highlighted previously: VR experiences for those who are restricted in their mobility and the effect of robots in elder care.
Bringing experiences to the older person. A Tokyo therapist, Kenta Toshima, takes videos of his travels to 29 countries and 55 cities, then shares them with his patients on a smartphone mounted on an inexpensive cardboard viewer to simulate full VR. His concept, Virtually Able, has positive results and he is trying to develop a study. Yet in the US, Dr. Sonya Kim has been developing this in a commercial model via OneCaringTeam and Aloha VR. [TTA 21 Nov 16 and 11 Nov 17] These VR experiences for residents of long-term care are being researched for easing anxiety, increasing positive feelings, stimulation, and connectedness in older people with mobility difficulties or dementia, with Cedars-Sinai in LA evaluating VR for pain reduction with mixed results.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Pepper-daughter.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Robotics in monitoring and connectedness. It’s another look at Palro and Pepper [TTA 24 Oct 17], this time in action at the Flos Higashi-kojiya Senior Care Facility in Tokyo, at a nursing home run by the Social Welfare Corporation of Tokyo Seishinkai, and in a home with an older couple. Robots, as we’ve noted, are stepping in the care and connectedness gap.
- For older adults living at home by themselves, interactive robots like Pepper can aid with tasks but as you’ll see in the video, the wide-eyed Pepper becomes a ‘daughter-bot’ (left and above from the video) that remarkably increases engagement between this older couple in a typically crowded Japanese home.
- In Japan, as in the West, there’s a shortage of care staff able to engage with residents in senior living. In the video, Palro struts across a table to the admiration of a group of older women in assisted living and leads them in an exercise routine.
- In a Tokyo nursing home, a Guardian desktop robot not only monitors the well-being of patients in nursing care using audio and video, but also communicates interactively with the patient to give a feeling of personal attention and encouragement. Mr. Fukada at 06:14 quotes a study that residents living with robots are 50 percent more active and that 70 percent without robots are less active, but unfortunately this is not footnoted.
What is evident is that Japan continues to pioneer in robotics for care of older adults and in general (CES), but the takeup in other countries, with some exception for Europe, is not that great–yet. Previously in TTA: Japan’s workarounds for adult care shortage, Japan’s hard lessons on an aging population
Many of us are remote workers, but what if you could be in the office via a telepresence robot? A writer for Wired adopted an EmBot from Double Robotics so she could ‘be in the office’ in San Francisco while living in Boston. Her adventures with human-robot office interactions, developing relationship protocols, self-identification with it, and its many foibles (technical and otherwise) are a hoot. Hat tip to TTA Founder Steve Hards
Clark Kent would activate a robot to take his place at the Daily Planet while dashing off as Superman. Could a robot be your cyberself, working to provide you with an income stream in retirement? Or could you invest in robots working in the short-term robo-gig economy? Joseph Coughlin of MIT’s AgeLab in Forbes is quite certain that we’ll be hiring robot helpers around the house (including serving drinks) and some of us will become robopreneurs, sending out our robots to work. Far fetched? Froyo franchise kiosks (already promoted on radio in the US) serve up robot-prepared and sold frozen yogurt.[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Nao.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]For your weekend reading (with coffee and a snack) is a study examining human reactions to a purposely programmed error-ridden NAO humanoid robot versus a behaving NAO in performing interactive tasks. The surprise is that people liked the faulty robot more than the perfect one. The study also gauged the human cues to errant behavior (sidelong gazes, laughter)–cues that could tell the robot it’s in error. To Err Is Robot: How Humans Assess and Act toward an Erroneous Social Robot (Frontiers in Robotics and AI) Second tipped hat to Steve More on SoftBank Robotics’ NAO here.
It seems like ages–in reality, only two years or so [TTA 19 Dec 15]–that this Editor was writing hopefully about advances in exoskeletons such as ReWalk and Wyss, EKSO plus DARPA research in assisting the mobility of paraplegics and others who need assistance in major movement. And then the news went rather dark, though ReWalk is now in its sixth iteration.
So it is heartening to be able to report that an established healthcare robotics company, Toronto’s Bionik Laboratories, is investing in a joint venture with Boston-based Wistron Corporation, an industrial design and manufacturing company, to further develop the Bionik ARKE lower body exoskeleton. Bionik’s emphasis has been on rehabilitative hospital-to-home upper body robotics to assist patients with regaining mobility. The ARKE appears to be both rehabilitative and assistive for patients in the home. Once developed in the JV, Wistron would be the sole manufacturer.
According to Crunchbase, Bionik raised $13.1 million in a July 2015 private placement specifically to develop the ARKE (MassDevice). This past May, they raised about $2 million from Hong Kong’s Ginger Capital in a separate JV to sell their robotics into the Chinese market. Bionik partnered with IBM starting last year to develop machine learning to analyze the data generated by the ARKE (FierceBiotech).
The target market for the Bionik/Wistron JV is not in this context a surprise. It is the booming older adult Asian market, where the aging/elderly population is projected to hit 983 million by 2050. Many especially in China and India live in rural areas and aren’t covered by any pension or old-age support (ADB Research). It is not clear to this Editor how expensive lower-body exoskeletons will be supported financially either privately or by government. Bionik release, FierceBiotech
This directly relates to self-driving cars, which are supposed to solve all sorts of problems from road rage to traffic jams. It turns out that they cannot live up to the breathless hype of Elon Musk, Google, and their ilk, even taking the longer term. Sequencing on roadways? We don’t have the high-accuracy GPS like the Galileo system yet. Rerouting? Eminently hackable and spoofable as WAZE has been. Does it see obstacles, traffic signals, and people clearly? Can it make split-second decisions? Can it anticipate the behavior of other drivers? Can it cope with mechanical failure? No more so, and often less, at present than humans. And self-drivers will be a bonanza for trial lawyers, as added to the list will be car companies and dealers to insurers and owners. While it will give mobility to the older, vision impaired, and disabled, it could also be used to restrict freedom of movement. Why not simply incorporate many of these assistive features into cars, as some have been already? An intelligent analysis–and read the comments (click by comments at bottom to open). Problems and Pitfalls in Self-Driving Cars (American Thinker)
‘Extreme digital living’ is the norm in the Baltic country of Estonia, which rebuilt itself from the ground up after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union (and each citizen receiving a distribution of €10) to one of the most advanced online-only countries in the world, far ahead of the US, the UK, and the rest of the EU. Internet access is by law a basic human right in Estonia. Digital signatures are equal in every way to paper signatures, except for marriage and divorce (a nostalgic touch). Everyday living is paperless and programming is taught in early grades. Live in picturesque Tallinn and need a delivery? It may come to your door via Starship robot, founded by one of the former Skype team. (Did you know that former Skypers have funded much of the Estonian tech and investment boom?) They take data security seriously with the Russian Bear growling (and hacking) on the border, so they created a NATO-accredited cyberdefense center in Tallinn and a whole country backup in a Luxembourg ‘data embassy’. Blockchain is a large part of this–and the government is working on using it for mapping the genome data of its 1.3 million citizens and sell it (deidentified) to precision medicine researchers.
So if you are a US, UK, EU, or even Australian-based developer, or already have a small tech company, why is this of interest? Estonia has opened a door for foreigners that is a most attractive one–virtual residency, no matter where you live. Once you’re an e-resident, simply register your company (online of course) and pay a fee of €145. You now can do business in euros–and fully access the EU. Most companies pay monthly administrative and accounting fees in Estonia, providing the country with income. About 1,400 companies have taken advantage of e-residency. It isn’t a tax haven, but if you do have income in Estonia, their corporate taxes are low–20 percent, compared to 19 percent for the UK, 30 percent for Australia, and a shattering 39 percent for the US (at present). Trading Economics And there is that tech and digital-savvy workforce as an additional incentive. Is This Tiny European Nation a Preview of Our Tech Future? (Fortune) Hat tip to TTA Founder Steve Hards
The effect on healthcare? The categories are very broad, but the third category of employment affected is administrative and support services at 37 percent, followed by professional, scientific and technical at 26 percent, and human health and social work at 17 percent. Will it increase productivity and thus salaries, which have languished in the past decade? Will it speed innovation and care in our area? Will it help the older population to be healthy and productive? And the societal effects will roll on, but perhaps not for some. View this wonderful exchange between Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler that closes the 1933 film Dinner at Eight. Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury @dewsbury via Twitter
Industry analyst Laurie Orlov previews her annual review of ‘Technology for Aging In Place’ on LinkedIn with six insights into the changes roiling health tech in the US. We’ll start with a favorite point–terminology–and summarize/review each (in bold), not necessarily in order.
“Health Tech” replaces “Digital Health,” begins acknowledging aging. This started well before Brian Dolan’s acknowledgment in Mobihealthnews, as what was ‘digital health’ anyway? This Editor doesn’t relate it to a shift in investment money, more to the 2016 realization by companies and investors that care continuity, meaningful clinician workflow, access to key information, and predictive analytics were a lot more important–and fundable–than trying to figure out how to handle Data Generated by Gadgets.
Niche hardware will fade away – long live software and training. Purpose-built ‘senior tablets’ will likely fade away. The exception will be specialized applications in remote patient monitoring (RPM) for vital signs and in many cases, video, that require adaptation and physical security of standard tablets. These have device connectivity, HIPAA, and FDA (Class I/II) concerns. Other than those, assistive and telehealth apps on tablets, phablets and smartphones with ever-larger screens are enough to manage most needs. An impediment: cost (when will Medicare start assisting with payments for these?), two-year life, dependence on vision, and their occasionally befuddling ways.
Voice-first interfaces will dominate apps and devices. “Instead we will be experimenting with personal assistants or AI-enabled voice first technologies (Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Cortana) which can act as mini service provider interfaces – find an appointment, a ride, song, a restaurant, a hotel, an airplane seat.” In this Editor’s estimation, a Bridge Too Far for this year, maybe 2018. Considerations are cost, intrusiveness, and accuracy in interpreting voice commands. A strong whiff of the Over-Hyped pervades.
Internet of Things (IoT) replaces sensor-based categories. Sensors are part of IoT, so there’s not much of a distinction here, and this falls into ‘home controls’ which may be out of the box or require custom installation. Adoption again runs into the roadblocks of cost and intrusiveness with older people who may be quite reluctant to take on both. And of course there is the security concern, as many of these devices are insecure, eminently hackable, and has been well documented as such.
Tech-enabled home care pressures traditional homecare providers – or does it? ‘What exactly is tech-enabled care? And what will it be in the future?’ Agreed that there will be a lot of thinking in home care about what $200 million in investment in this area actually means. Is this being driven by compliance, or by uncertainty around what Medicare and state Medicaid will pay for in future?
Robotics and virtual reality will continue — as experiments. Sadly, yes, as widespread adoption means investment, and it’s not there on the senior housing level where there are other issues bubbling, such as real estate and resident safety. There are also liability issues around assistance robotics that have not yet been worked out. Exoskeletons–an assistance method this Editor has wanted to see for several years for older adults and the disabled–seems to be stalled at the functionality/expense/weight level.
Study release TBD
- If you don’t think 100 percent self-driving cars are an Unalloyed Wonder, like Elon Musk and Google tells you, you’re a Luddite
- If you have concerns about nanny tech or smart homes which can spy on you, you’re paranoid
- If you are concerned that robots will take the ‘social’ out of ‘social care’, likely replace human carers for people, or lose your neighbor their job, you are not with the program
I have likely led with the reason why: loss of control. Control does not motivate just Control Freaks. Think about the decisions you like versus the ones you don’t. Think about how helpless you felt as a child or teenager when big decisions were made without any of your input. It goes that deep.
In the smart home, robotic/AI world then, who has the control? Someone unknown, faceless, well meaning but with their own rationale? (Yes, those metrics–quality, cost, savings) Recall ‘Uninvited Guests’, the video which demonstrated that Dad Ain’t Gonna Take Nannying and is good at sabotage.
Let’s stop and consider: what are we doing? Where are we going? What fills the need for assistance and care, yet retains that person’s human autonomy and that old term…dignity? Maybe they might even like it? For your consideration:
How a robot could be grandma’s new carer (plastic dogs to the contrary in The Guardian)
AI Is Not out to Get Us (Scientific American)
Hat tip on both to reader Malcolm Fisk, Senior Research Fellow (CCSR) at De Montfort University via LinkedIn
Speaking of recouping, IBM Watson Health‘s latest partnership is with Siemens Healthineers to develop population health technology and services to help providers operate in value-based care. Neil Versel at MedCityNews looks at that as well as 60 Minutes. Added bonus: a few chuckles about the rebranded Siemens Healthcare’s Disney-lite rebranding.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/robottoy-1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]TechWorld gives us a short narrative on robotics history dating back to Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics (1942), Turing’s Imitation Game (1950) and the pioneering work of several inventors in the late 1940s. There’s a brief tribute to Star Wars’ R2-D2 (Kenny Baker RIP) and C-3PO. It finishes up with AI-driven IBM Watson and Deep Mind’s AlphaGo. Breezy but informative beach reading! Hat tip to Editor Emeritus and TTA founder Steve Hards; also read his acerbic comment on Dell and Intel’s involvement in Thailand’s Saensuk Smart City
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ltw-2016-logo1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]More robots than people, VR visits to the GP and 3D printed human organs were among the predictions in a survey of over 2,000 British adults. Also in their collective vision in the next 20 years (2036) were communications devices being embedded inside the human body (37 percent), a cloned human born by that year (50 percent), clothing connected to the internet (50 percent) and more driverless cars than conventional models. The study was conducted by SMG Insight and YouGov, commissioned by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company, in the runup to London Technology Week through 26 June, highlighting London as a global technology hub. According to their release, an EY report ranked London as second only to Silicon Valley as the most likely place to produce the world’s next tech giant. The event also promotes Imperial College London’s Foresight team and their Tech Foresight 2036 on 24 June. Also ITPro.