Mechanical care

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A Queensland aged care home is breaking some new ground, trialling the use of emotionally intelligent robots to help look after the patients.  If the research proves a success, the technology could be rolled out within three years.

Meet Matilda the robot.  She can talk, sing, dance and even blush but unlike any other robot, Matilda is training to become an aged care nurse.  The idea may take some getting used to, but researchers from La Trobe University are conducting trials in nursing homes to assess how patients interact with the new technology.

The results have been quite positive so for example we had one person with dementia and he played quiz with Matilda and he was really happy that he got a few right.

The robots are programmed to read facial expressions and pick up on distress and anxiety.

There’s a period of getting to know that person and getting to know what their responses normally are and then they basically then know when somebody is feeling distressed.

If successful, the robots would be used to enhance services, but not replace human staff.  Matilda is brushing up on bingo and other entertainment activities.

Matilda or Jack called the numbers while the volunteer was actually assisting the residents, so we still need the volunteer, we still need the staff.

It may be only three years until the robots are ready for use.  Grace Tobin, 7 News.