There’s nothing that can replace dogs. The living ones. So let’s just start there. But sending in canine happiness to drive aware COVID-induced despair may not really be the smartest of choices. What is smarter though, is assembling a robot in the shape and feel of a dog. Sorry, shape only.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have put together one such robot. Complete with a handheld device these robots tend to a variety of functions. These include checking skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation.
Reports have also poured in ever since the outbreak first made for ghastly headlines about healthcare workers and others on the forefront of the battle with the pandemic testing positive for COVID.
The robot, christened ‘Spot’, comes with an infrared camera and three other monochrome cameras capable of filtering different wavelengths of light, to record the above mentioned vital signs. These make for testing and monitoring patients with no prerequisite of a doctor being present on site.
The current global pandemic, among other things, has pushed for a technological overhaul. Researchers, developers and enthusiasts alike are pushing for increased innovation and in some terms, a reorientation of the limits of technology, viewed until now.
Robotic cats, dogs – socially assistive robots basically – are of crucial importance during these times. These robots allow some sort of secondary contact and communication for people of all age groups locked up in their homes. Facilitating with everyday chores as well as helping people get going with their normal schedules – like schooling or office work – during abnormal times are key positives of such assistive robots.
For now, the researchers are testing the robot on healthy volunteers with plans to test it in a real-world hospital set up on people showing COVID-19 symptoms soon. Though the researchers didn’t have to develop unique technology for the robot, what remains to be tested is the efficiency of the robot in triage situations. Whether it will be able to prioritise urgent and dire conditions and situations over others.
What’s your take? Especially with increasing opinions on how the COVID-19 situations had driven citizens and patients into spheres of isolation and gloom, will further supplementation of people with robots add to the mental health pandemic? Or is this a boon for efforts to restrict medical personnel from handling dangerous tasks?