In recent years we’ve all seen lots of new robots come on the scene, though few of them seem to actually land in our lives, the lone exception being the Roomba Vacuum robot. That may change as the focus slowly moves from robots that can be used in war, to robots that can help us when we’re at our most vulnerable, e.g. sick, injured or simply sad. One good example of that is the HugBot, which debuted at the Taipei International Robot show last week. It looks like a human sized polar bear, complete with cute smile and fluffy fur, but in reality, it’s purpose is to take a person’s pulse to check their medical status without causing undo alarm. LiveScience describes it as one of the big star attractions at the show and for good reason. In addition to testing your pulse, it also offers a really good hug. HugBot can be seen in action at the show in a video the company has posted on YouTube.
HugBot, made by Taiwanese robot company UrRobot is the latest in series of robots LiveScience says, designed to make the process of having one’s health checked a little less anxiety inducing, especially when it involves children. To that end, HugBot is able to detect a person’s pulse via a tiny embedded microphone in just five or six seconds, which many may suspect is actually shorter than the time it takes to enjoy a hug from a cuddly, cute snow white polar bear. It’s not hard to imagine the bear with a little more personality, ala Teddy Ruxpin, or to see it over the next couple of years used for other tests as well, such as temperature and or respiration rate. Once the HugBot has taken your pulse, the information is displayed on a computer nearby.
Personal robots that do nothing but put people at ease are becoming popular in Japan, LiveScience says, especially among people living in assisted care facilities for the elderly. Other Asian countries, noting Japanese progress in robotics have been scurrying to catch up and robots such as HugBot, by a relative newcomer such as Taiwan based UrRobot, is a sure sign of things to come, more helpful hints.
Officials for UrRobot at the show say they believe HugBot could be used at elementary schools, amusement parks and especially children’s hospitals where the sights and sounds aren’t always very comforting. In addition to taking a child’s pulse, the comforting hug helps elicit smiles, which are always a healthy sign.