The device, worn like a watch, has a built-in camera, microphone and accelerometer, which measure the pace and direction of hand moves, to discern whether wearers are brushing their teeth, vacuuming or making coffee.
In a demonstration at NTT's research facility, what user's activities were collected as data that popped up as lines on a graph — with each kind of movement showing up as different patterns of lines. Using this technology, what an elderly person is doing during each hour of the day can be shown on a chart. The prototype was connected to a personal computer for the demonstration, but researchers said such data could also be relayed by wireless or stored in a memory card to be looked at later.
Fully conscious people can operate this robot themselves, without any help from a caregiver. The robot can also be used as an electric wheelchair. The lifting hand has a conveyor belt, and it can retract and extend automatically, so moving people is easy.
The hand can also be tilted freely, so people can get on and off easily as well. In addition, special rollers have been used to enable the robot to turn smoothly in narrow spaces. This robot can run on floor mats without damaging them. The robot can be operated by touch-screen or via voice-recognition.
It is specifically designed for people with upper-limb disabilities, so one at least has to be able to move a regular wheelchair joystick to operate the arm. The arm moves by a telescoping method, where small interlocked segments are reeled-in to achieve motion. RAPUDA can accomplishing many everyday tasks, such as reaching for a glass of water from a table and bringing it to the user’s mouth. The arm can also reach down, pick up things and put them back in their right place.
Opening doors, carrying clothes and other tasks can also be made possible again for disabled patients. It’s true that the arm operates at a very slow pace, but in return it looks very stable and secure. All this allows patients to live much more independent lives, which, as documented, helps them on psychological levels as well. Let’s hope that the affordability of RAPUDA will be just as “simple” as well.
He’s also equipped with a microphone that comes with a voice recognition function to identify his master. The researchers claim DiGORO can learn up to ten movements and is also able to adjust to its immediate environment, for example pieces of furniture placed in a room he’s supposed to clean. DiGORO is said to be the first programmable robot that’s designed to do housework. His makers plan to commercialize the technology within “several years”. (The Japan Times, Crunch Gear, DigInfo, Robotics Zeitgeist)