Economy, Sci & Tech

Robot to Care for Unattended Children, Dementia Patients

Robot to Care for Unattended Children, Dementia Patients
Robot to Care for Unattended Children, Dementia Patients

With her brown hair, soft skin and expressive face, Nadine is a new brand of human-like robot that could one day, scientists hope, be used as a personal assistant or care provider for the elderly.

The 1.7-meter-tall Nadine was created in the likeness of its maker, Nadia Thalmann, a visiting professor and director of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's Institute of Media Innovation who has spent three decades researching virtual humans, Reuters reported.

Nadine's software allows the robot to express a range of emotions and recall a previous conversation. It is not commercially available, but Thalmann predicted robots could one day be used as companions for people living with dementia.

"If you leave these people alone, they will be going down very quickly. So these people need to always be in interaction," Thalmann said, adding that Nadine could provide conversation, tell a story or play a simple game.

Thalmann and her team are also working on emotive robots that can play with children. The project is still in the early development stage and no prototype is available yet.

"The child robot would be able to respond to questions, display emotions and recognize people. Aside from being a social companion, the child robot could supervise unattended children and inform a parent or nanny if something went wrong," she said.

Thalmann announced plans to program the child robot to speak different languages so that it can serve as an educational tool for children.

"A child has toys but they are usually passive. This robot will be an active toy that interacts with the child," she said. "It will be able to remember what the child likes."