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Mobiserv Robot Designed To Keep Tabs On Seniors

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the good-pairing-for-an-old-thief-named-frank dept.

Robotics 40

Zothecula writes "Of the various potential uses for robots, there's one that many people often forget about – in-home helpers for the elderly. A number of such robots are currently in the works, including the Twendy-One and GiraffPlus. Now, a consortium of European research institutes and companies has created another such electronic assistant, as one component of the larger Mobiserv Project."

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often forget about – in-home helpers for the (3, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#44627725)

"often forget about – in-home helpers for the elderly"

Not me. With people living longer and longer and less and less young people to take care of them, the elderly will be a big market for robots for years to come yet. I had a discussion with a friend of mine about that the other day.

Re:often forget about – in-home helpers for (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44628341)

Why has nobody mentioned Robot and Frank?

Re:often forget about – in-home helpers for (-1, Offtopic)

Hilary Buff (3024185) | about a year ago | (#44628821)

Total health care offers a wide range of services designed to meet the diverse needs of the elderly who wish to continue to live at home, but they can’t do it without help. To get more information please visit []

Re:often forget about – in-home helpers for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44631251)

With such an expansion of the market for robots to take care of seniors, we really need to get on the ball with Old Glory Robot Insurance, for when the metal ones come for you.

Cheaper than a wife at EUR 10K (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44627955)

If this thing can bring snacks and brewskis from the fridge, and come with a built-in microwave for nuking sausages, I'm all in!

Re:Cheaper than a wife at EUR 10K (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44628123)

Have you tried moving the couch and in the kitchen instead? No wife required and require little space too.

Re:Cheaper than a wife at EUR 10K (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about a year ago | (#44630541)

If that's the only use you have for wife, you're doing it wrong.

-- hendrik

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44627963)

We tend to think of robots as two-legged humanoid servants, and those are still some time away. But home automation has helped the elderly, and others, for quite some time. Starting with the humble vacuum cleaner, to washing machines and dishwashers, now robotic vacuum cleaners start to be common, and "japanese" toilets are coming soon... And of course various kitchen machinery, climate control, etc. Sure, more advanced things are being developed, and that is (mostly?) good.

I can't see it working (1)

trumpetplayer (520581) | about a year ago | (#44628015)

I think they are targeting the wrong audience here. We are already surrounded by robots including the washing machine, the Thermomix and many others. Last generation vacuum cleaners can do the whole job for you and the company making the original one is called iRobot. However, I think that there is correlation between anyone choosing to use whatever robot and his / her age when it first comes out. Microwave ovens for example are generally used by people below 70, because people above that never bothered to figure out about them when they came out. So for this senior robot thing to work, you'll need to sell it to people say 60 years old who still may give a s**t about these things. Problem is, at that age, they don't need it at all yet, so they are not going to buy one just to familiarize themselves. Moreover, when they do need one, in say 16 years time, the model would be a joke compared with the current ones in the market, because these products become obsolete very quickly. The idea of a 90 year old person choosing to buy or use the thing shown on those pictures seems an unlikely one to me.

Re:I can't see it working (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44630077)

I think you're not fully considering the target audience's situation

Mom-in-Law is reaching the point that she can't live on her own any more. The choices are:
Send her to a retirement home
Let her move in with you
Hire a caretaker
Purchase a robot caretaker

Take a moment to think about the costs of each of those options, financial and otherwise. Suddenly the robot starts looking a lot more attractive.

Re:I can't see it working (1)

trumpetplayer (520581) | about a year ago | (#44631121)

I suspect that things work differently here in Spain than they do where you are from, or at least in the house where I was raised. You see, my mum has given me an enormous amount of unconditional love over decades. She used to have a job (despite my dad having one too), do most of the cleaning and cooking, rise 3 children and continue her studies, all at the same time. Despite all this, for years she found time to help me with my homework EVERY DAY. If my other half loves her mum say half so much as I love mine, she won't ask me to consider "letting her move with us", but rather she will kidnap her mum and force her to come live with us as soon as she suspects that will improve HER MUM's quality of life. Because of this, I don't think the term "cost" applies, and the robot doesn't start looking any more attractive.

Re:I can't see it working (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44632429)

Yes, the Hispanic cultures do tend to be much more family oriented than most, in fact if your story is typical it sounds like Spain may actually be one of the less dramatic examples. In the Americas (less so in the US) it's not all that uncommon for 3-4 generations to live under the same roof. In fact in many places it's the grandparents that are expected to handle the bulk of child-rearing duties. Which probably has some real benefits if you think about it - they've had a lot more time to develop good parenting skills, and have both a lot more time on their hands and (hopefully) a lot more wisdom to share with the children, and it leaves those in their most productive years free to go about supporting the family.

For the rest of the world though... Even for yourself - if you don't get along well with your mother in law then there *will* be a considerable cost involved with her moving in, whether or not there are any other acceptable options. And in places like Japan, where population controls have created a what will soon be a very age-heavy population, robotic assistance will be almost mandatory - the working-age population will already be hard-pressed just to be productive enough to keep the system from falling apart.

Re:I can't see it working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44635659)

Tell us about your situation when grandma is rounding 90, gone demented, is as unmanageable as a paranoid 2 year old who weighs 300 pounds--and your household is the only option other than drugging her to the point of being comatose in some damn psych hospital, because she's so bad off a nursing home won't step in.

That's where my family is at. I'll sum it up thus: It's enough to make a sociopath out of the kindest most loving person. Hispanic families tend to at least have the benefit of giving a shit. The siblings in this situation couldn't care less.

I think the Eskimo cultures had it right. When it gets bad enough, put granny out on the ice flow. The polar bears get a meal, and everyone benefits.

Re:I can't see it working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44639257)

I'd "push myself out on the ice flow" before I get that far gone. It's a considerate thing to do.

Re:I can't see it working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44631189)

Microwave ovens for example are generally used by people below 70, because people above that never bothered to figure out about them when they came out.

That's just bullshit. Microwaves became popular in the '70s when people now in their 80s and 90s were in their 40s and 50s. Early microwaves were pretty damned expensive and the controls were a lot more complex that today's, since the controls were all analog and mechanical. Folks my age (I'm 61) didn't have microwaves because we couldn't afford them. Our parents did, though.

You don't know many elderly people, do you? You're completely wrong about them (although a lot of elderly folks eschew computers and cell phones). I know quite a few, and there are none who are unable to use a microwave. I do know a few young folks that pretty much punch buttons by guess rather than following the instructions on the package. They'll take a TV dinner, set the microwave for ten minutes, shut it off when the food starts popping and complain that it tastes like shit. Of course it does -- the instructions say take the film off the potatoes, which they didn't do, cook for 3 minutes, stir the taters, cook for another 2-3 12 minutes depending on the package. Cooked properly they're... well, edible.

Re:I can't see it working (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#44633991)

"Early microwaves were pretty damned expensive and the controls were a lot more complex that today's, since the controls were all analog and mechanical."

I have no idea where you got that, unless you're thinking of something like the Radarange from late Forties. []

Started using microwave ovens at work and home in '70-71. Controls were brain-dead simple: insert food, close door, turn timer dial. When bell sounds, remove food. Some were complicated, tho - had to push a start button after turning the timer dial. Complex? Sheesh.

Re:I can't see it working (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about a year ago | (#44634415)

The controls themselves were simpler, but the usage of the oven was much more complicated. Today, with the 'complex' controls, if you want to thaw a pound of meat you hit the 'thaw meat' button, and maybe enter the weight of the meat. In the 70's, with the 'brain dead simple' controls, the procedure was look at a chart to find 'thaw meat'. The chart said 'Set power level to x, run for 2 minutes, wait 2 minutes, set power level to y, run 3 minutes, rotate food, wait 2 minutes' etc. Failure to properly follow the chart meant ruining your food. The result was (at least in my house) that the microwave was used primarily for boiling water. My parents (who were in their 30's in the 70's when they got their first microwave) still use the microwave primarily for boiling water. This has nothing to do with them being old or unable to grasp new concepts.

Re:I can't see it working (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#44639659)

Oh, Ok, I see what you mean. Back then it was kinda middle ground - basic heating and simple cooking. A chicken breast, x minutes; a mid-size Idaho, y-minutes. Newer ovens offer nifty capabilities but too often the people who design the control logic that faces the user don't live in the same world I do. I've managed to set the clock and thaw stuff; still trying to track down the manual for the old discontinued item my landlord provides. But mostly I don't do, or have the need to do, anything too fancy.

As for older folks grasping stuff, while I acknowledge some diminution of intellect, my experience is that much depends on how things are presented, explained, and demonstrated. Sometimes there's effectively a language barrier as well; solution is to keep it simple (no, not baby talk or condescension) by just using a common vocabulary; it's easy to use too much non-essential jargon.

I don't even know why the scientists make them (3, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year ago | (#44628309)

Robots to look after old people? Are they mad?! Everyone knows they steal old people's medicine to keep themselves going, and then there's the problem of them attacking them with their metal claws.

Someone needs to offer seniors insurance against that sort of thing.

Re: I don't even know why the scientists make them (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#44631077)

The robots are there to protect the seniors from the other robots... duh. For example, if Pusher robots are a problem in your area, Old Glory insurance will offer you a discount if you purchase a Shover robot to protect you from the terrible secret of space. You might also want to move to a home without stairs.

Re: I don't even know why the scientists make them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44634445)

for anyone who hasn't seen the future:

Still cracks me up with its prescience from all those years ago. :]

stop targeting the elderly. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44628365)

Id have more time to spend with the elderly, as would most other adults, if we focused this technology on deprecating the more grueling parts of the service sector like fast food and walmart so i didnt have to work two jobs to pay rent.

Re:stop targeting the elderly. (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44630239)

Don't think they're not doing so. I just read about some fast-food chain experimenting with robotic burger-making and delivery. Production times can be lowered dramatically, consistency increases, and the robot never ever (well, hardly ever) spits in your burger.

But think this through - once they automate the bulk of the service industry what will they need you for? You'll be out of two jobs, and still need to eat and pay rent. The problem is not a technological one, it's a social one. In a world where most non-creative labor is being rapidly replaced with robots we need to think long and hard about what we'll do with the surplus of workers. We have over a century of labor-saving devices integrated into our day to day lives, and in the US at least not many people have actually saved any labor, instead they work just as hard and get a lot more done. That's great and all, but there's only so much that actually needs to get done, and creating busywork for a large segment of the population is both wasteful and a horrible drain on national morale.

Re:stop targeting the elderly. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#44634573)

We had an "easy" introduction to automation with the auto industry in, what, the '70s and '80s on, with hundreds of thousands of workers displaced. Some found other work. A significant number became chronically unemployed and unemployable.

Varies by whose estimates you go by, but gentlest case I've seen is 1/3 of working population in U.S. jobless by mid-century. As in no work to be had at all.

See [] for a version.

Re:stop targeting the elderly. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44637553)

It's an easy enough problem to fix, it just requires a cultural shift. One possible route would be to simply make the full time work week shorter: Make it 30 hours instead of 40 and you immediately need 1/3 more workers to cover the same shifts. More vacation time would help too. Companies not cooperating? Raise the mandatory minimum overtime rate to 2x, or 3x, or whatever it takes to motivate them to find a way to spread the work around.

Re:stop targeting the elderly. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#44639743)

Amen. Getting that cultural shift is a, if not the, main sticking point in all this. There are a slew of commonly accepted "wisdoms" that, to put it politely, are incongruent with the real world. Adjusting the work week is easy, simple, direct, and at the least effective for near-term. Add proviso that half what is saved from OT goes to benefits. Happy workers makes for good work makes for profit. Now try convince them. Hello, brick wall.

Cheap, abundant electricity is key, later on, but that's another story.

I hope the seniors get robot insurance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44628777)

Old Glory Insurance. Robots are everywhere, and they eat old people's medicine for fuel.

It's only $4 per month!

FP nIgGA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44628805)

If *BSd is to Butts are exposed need to scream tha@t by clicking here effort to address the future holds

Makes me want to cry... (1)

Macchendra (2919537) | about a year ago | (#44628919)

I want to volunteer for the elderly, now. I just can't stand Fox News. Is there a for elderly volunteers yet? The only thing worse than dying alone is having a robot reminder that you are alone. I'd visit my mom if I didn't think my ex-brother would show up. :-(

Robot and Frank (2)

psychonaut (65759) | about a year ago | (#44628923)

Unfortunately the article doesn't indicate whether these robots can help elderly jewel thieves carry out big heists [] . Inquiring minds want to know!

Re:Robot and Frank (1)

Gemdog (1418099) | about a year ago | (#44639939)

Inquiring minds or future jewel thieves? I guess there's a market for both...

Don't need to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44629375)

The NSA is already keeping tabs on them. The problem is when they fall the NSA thinks they're sleeping.

I missread that as Senators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44630623)

I missread that title as '..designed to keep tabs on Senators'. Am somewhat disappointed.

Re:I missread that as Senators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44631577)

I initially misread it as "Mobisery Robot", the mobile misery robot designed to keep tabs on seniors.

Much less scary than how I read it (1)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#44631339)

Which isn't to say that I misparsed it syntactically, or even misread any of the words - I just thought from the title that it would be about a robot designed to keep tabs on *high school* seniors, like following them around to make sure they weren't drinking or smoking outside of school. Which would be crazy creepy.

There's insurance for that... (1)

djrobxx (1095215) | about a year ago | (#44631975) []

Now I finally understand the purpose of Old Glory insurance. ;)

two things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44632013)

One, not long after I get my robot, I'll no longer need, or be able to, socialize with other humans.

Two, I'll need a firearm to shoot out the screen on my robot's "chest" because I'm weary of the googleads it displays.

lol no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44632609)

>the elderly are often forgotten
Bullshit. Slashvertisment.

The elderly are up there with hospitals and the military as fools with gold. The go-to for projects that aren't economically viable for the general population are still pitched to these, if not in the first place. When the $800,000 hoverchair (ie Professor Xavier) comes out, news will hail the new "public" technology, but the only ones they can consider as potential buyers will have to be the rich, the military, the hospitals, the elderly, the universities, and the business execs, excluding the Ebenezer Scrooges.

This "financial capability" event is actually a result of allowing someone stupid/lazy something they call a "budget item".

- Falos

Senators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44633715)

Mis-read that. Seemed like a good idea,

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