This week saw the 19th International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held at Tokyo Big Sight displaying the world’s most advanced, innovative and sometimes plain bizarre robots. Over 270 different companies and organizations joined this year’s theme of “Robot Technology, Making a Future with Robot”. Amongst the technologies on show were singing robots, climbing robots, industrial robots and even a robotic bear like pillow aimed at stoping snoring.
One of the main theme’s of the event seemed to be technology aimed at the health and wellbeing market. No surprise given Japan’s rapidly aging population and the future problems of healthcare that it could bring. Dr Kabe from Waseda University’s Kabe Lab in the Faculty of Human Science demonstrated a number of different concepts that all centered around providing care or comfort with the aid of technology. One such idea was the “Jukusui-kun” (Deep Sleep), a robotic pillow like device in the shape of a polar bear that looks at helping the more than 2million patients who suffer “Sleep Apnea Syndrome” in Japan (those who suffer breathing difficulties while sleeping…chronic snorers!).
Dr Kabe’s Jukusuri-Kun works through the person asleep wearing a similarly cute pulse-oxygen meter attached to the hand which sends readings of the amount of oxygen in the blood to a terminal running a program with the persons vital statistics pre-programmed in. To eliminate the intrusion of wires preventing a good sleep the team also developed a cordless technology which uses the human bodies natural conductive properties to communicate with a conductive sheet that lies under the bed sheet. The pillow itself also houses a microphone which analyses the decibel level of the snorer. When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow’s hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.
In the next blog we will show you some other technologies on display from the students in Kabe Lab under Dr Kabe including a communicative Panda, and a robot aimed at sharing some sympathy.