Last week at TEDMED, iRobot, makers of of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, announced the creation of a healthcare division. iRobot CEO, Colin Angle, presented on the future of robots in healthcare. The new iRobot division will concentrate on developing assistive technology. In particular, they envision helping seniors to be more independent longer by providing robot assistants or nurses.
By doing so, iRobot hopes to “add a million years of independent living” to their customers. They hope to build robots that can help seniors with household chores and even see robots being able to help with administration of medicine. That seems like a pretty huge leap from an iRobot, which is a robot vacuum cleaner, but it sounds like a great idea.
I wonder what scale they will be working on. For example, it isn’t much of a leap to imagine a robot that you can put on a kitchen counter that will sort pills and alert a person that it is time to take their afternoon pills. I could even see hooking it up to a phone line and having it call a relative or social worker if the senior neglects to take their medicine.
I’ve also seen in recent months that robots are being developed to lift disabled patients from wheelchairs to beds. I wonder what other sorts of things a robot could help someone with.
For me, I’ll stick to robot vacuum cleaners for now, thank you.
The iRobot press release may be found here.