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Hitachi

Corporate InformationResearch & Development

By sensing a subtle change,
robots stay with people while shifting their roles.

Living with the “anxiety of getting too much information”

Advanced medical technologies give information on various diseases that might develop in individuals. Previously “you thought that you were free from such diseases.” When the probability of onset is indicated, our new challenge is to live with unavoidable anxiety. Talking about dementia, you may be afraid that your cognitive function could decline without you noticing it, or that your life may change drastically. Then how can we ease such “anxiety of knowing too much” and realize a healthy, peaceful life?

Life-assist robots encouraging the elderly to speak

Communication robots come to the home of the elderly living alone in order to make daily life more convenient. The robots support daily life in ways that include placing an order in response to the request of food ingredients from an old lady who likes to bake cake. These robots do not just wait for directions, but encourage the elderly to talk through communication with various facial expressions. The robots are characterized by measuring and memorizing the behavioral patterns of the elderly through spontaneous communication.

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Observing daily routines

Communication robots manage medication for the elderly. They not only assist in services voluntarily used by the elderly, but also manage services that the elderly use outside the home, such as medication to see whether the service is properly performed in place of the service providing company. Through this management, such persons involved as pharmacists, doctors and family outside the home can check the health condition of the elderly without shouldering too much burden.

Recognizing a slightest change through long-time observation

Being together for many years, the communication robots objectively recognize a subtle change in the behavior of the elderly, which might be overseen by family members who get used to the change.
For example, if an elderly person mistakenly orders apples again, the robot detects a subtle change in memory, and simply asks, “You’ve bought quite a lot of apples. Are you going to give them to somebody?” The robot probes for information without appearing unnatural or causing alarm.

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Gradually changing its role

In response to the recognized change in behavior, the communication robot gradually changes its role.
The communication robot asks a fun question for anyone to answer, such as: “It’s almost strawberry season again. What kind of pie did you bake last year?” This feels natural and not like a test or mental training. This is how the robot helps slow the progression of cognitive decline through daily communication.
Noticing a condition earlier than family members and calmly and appropriately dealing with it is what technologies can do to stay with humans.

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