Relying on 300-pound bear-faced robots to help nursing home residents get out of bed in the morning is much more effective if those folks actually have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Elderly people dealing with social isolation and loneliness are at increased risk of a variety of ailments, from cardiovascular disease and elevated blood pressure to cognitive deterioration and infection. In short, being old and alone can kill you. But robots aren't just good for improving the elderly's movement, they're surprisingly adept at keeping retirees socially, emotionally and mentally engaged as well.

These support robots are already springing up around Japan, where in 2016 the annual birth rate dropped below a million for the first time since 1899 and a quarter of the population is already greying. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expects the robotic service industry to boom to nearly $4 billion annually by 2035 -- 25 times its current level. Though Europe and the US aren't facing quite the apocalyptic shortfall of qualified human caretakers that Japan is, these two regions are also accelerating the development and adoption of support robots.

Though the current generation of these robots are far from what The Jetsons' Rosie could provide, they can still offer geriatric patients a variety of services that fall, generally, within three categories: serving and fetching, communications and emotional support.

Serving robots do exactly that. Take the Care-o-bot from Fraunhofer IPA, for example. This robot has been deployed in a number of German assisted living facilities. It is able to ferry food and drinks to residents from the kitchen as well as keep them entertained by playing memory games to help keep their minds sharp. And to put those people at ease who may not be 100 percent onboard with having a 4-foot tall robot butler zipping around the halls, the Care-o-bot is programmed to behave like a gentleman, Dr Ulrich Reiser, Project and Group Leader at Fraunhofer IPA, wrote in a 2015 release.

Rather than over-promise what it's capable of by presenting an overtly human form, the Care-o-bot instead focuses on what's inside. "It always maintains a respectful distance, shows what it has understood and what it intends to do, while also being able to make simple gestures and reflect emotions," Reiser wrote.

Honda's Asimo robot, the one which famously fell down that flight of stairs, has come a long way since its humiliating faceplant. Not only can the current iteration climb stairs, it can jump and even use sign language. Honda's research team eventually hopes that Asimo will serve as a go-fer for people with limited mobility -- say, bringing a glass of water or turning off a light switch.

"ASIMO was designed to help those in society who need assistance, and Honda believes that these improvements in ASIMO bring us another step closer to our ultimate goal of being able to help all kinds of people in need," Satoshi Shigemi, senior chief engineer at Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Japan, told Business Insider. "We need to understand what people expect from ASIMO and what people want ASIMO to do."

"Dinsow" Elderly care robot in japan  

These robots don't even need to be people-sized. The Dinsow elder care robot from CT Asia Robotics acts as a personal assistant of sorts. It helps its human remember to take their pills, tracks their health and automatically answers incoming calls from family and doctors. There's even a Dinsow Mini, released in 2015, which is small enough to live on the night stand of bedridden patients. The Dinsow does not come cheap, however. It retails for $2500, but yeah, you go tell Grandpa Joe he's got to keep staring at his in-laws until he keels over (or you find that Golden Ticket) because you didn't want to shell out for a little robobuddy for the man.
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Source: Engadget and dinsowrobotic Channel (YouTube)