7 Billiion | Empty Nests 06.tif

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Twendy One robot project at Waseda University... The robot is being programmed to help elderly out of bed and into a wheelchair... to pick up a straw and put it into a drink for them and eventually help around the kitchen and shopping.  The hardware is actually very sophisticated... top of the line sensors everywhere including the very newest tactile sensors embedded in the palm and fingers of both hands, but the software to make all those sensors work in practical ways is lagging.  The point of these photographs is not that this is a reality yet, but that it is OK in this culture to develop robots to help the elderly... a practical analytical solution to a burgeoning elderly class in Japan..All of these robotics folks developing robots for elderly talk about studies showing that more and more elderly are isolated and have no one to relate to... In 2009 it was 19 percent of the elderly population of Japan.  They have a word for it:  "Kodokushi" or "lonely death."
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