Future Senior Nursing Robots

Will Robots Be A Solution to Future Senior Nursing?

China faces a growing elderly population that requires, and deserves, astute care and attention. Meanwhile, new technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and robotics are thriving, making us wonder – when will we fully be able to leverage our advanced robotics technology to improve elderly care?

Future Senior Nursing Robots

In a recent interview with the broadcast “SMG Voice of the Yangtze River Delta”, iFLYTEK Smart Nursing Care Service Business Manager Xu Zhenxing said that he expects robots to be used as safety assistants, health stewards, and daily life assistants to seniors in the near future. This type of groundbreaking research is part of the iFLYTEK Super Brain 2030 initiative.

Robot-assisted Senior Nursing A Must

By 2025, China’s population over the age of 60 is estimated to exceed 300 million. Xu believes that it is imperative to promote robot-assisted senior nursing care to ensure access to quality care.

“We conducted a survey in a large urban community and found that there were almost 9,000 elderly people with disabilities, dementia, or living alone despite their advanced age. However, there were only 100 local service workers available to assist, making it difficult for the elderly to receive comprehensive care services. To meet that need, we want to develop robots for senior nursing care to perform the complex, repetitive work and make senior nursing care more targeted and considerate,” he shared.

These companion robots are not just for convenience or entertainment, but can be part of solving serious community problems. “We don’t want just a delivery robot to that can bring medicine to the elderly as needed,” Xu added, “What we aim for is a robot that can think and work just like a doctor provide scientific suggestions according to the known health indicators interact with family doctors, and warn families of immediate health problems.”

“Such robots require backend knowledge graphs before they can bring about positive changes in senior nursing care,” Xu noted. “iFLYTEK’s Smart Medical Assistant has researched huge quantities of medical volumes and clinical cases to train itself how to conduct clinical diagnosis according to symptoms and provide treatment suggestions,” he added.

While developing companion robots for seniors, iFLYTEK researchers found that many of the elderly have limited computing skills, limiting their ability to get information or communicate with loved ones and doctors. Based on that lesson, iFLYTEK is developing voice recognition capabilities for the care robots. “We aim to provide integrated services through a voice interaction mode so that seniors can simply tell the companion robots what they need,” Xu said.

Additionally, Xu said that iFLYTEK has been working to enhance its speech recognition technology to account for various language dialects and develop convenient ways for them to handle any unexpected malfunctions during use.

The iFLYTEK team has also found that vocal interactions can also support the emotional needs of seniors, Xu said. “We are working with Tongji University to conduct joint research on designing virtual characters to chat with seniors, even in the voices of family members, to keep them company.”

The “safety assistant” can trigger alarms and call for medical aid when needed. The “health steward” is capable of providing targeted suggestions on medication, chronic disease management, and diets while giving guidance on medical treatment. The “health steward” can also instantly alert doctors and family members that the user requires medical assistance. The “daily life assistant” is being designed to help users handle problems with traveling, shopping, and other daily tasks through simple voice commands.

“These three distinct roles will enable our companion robots to play an important role in the compassionate care of our elderly community,” Xu said. He believes that companion robots will not only benefit the elderly, but our communities at large.

By addressing needs of our aging population, iFLYTEK is aligned to its principle of meeting social needs, and creating social value.

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