In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, some hospitals in India are able to take advantage of robotic functionality to try to provide that human connection that patients need.
Adnan Abidi and Alasdair Pal at Reuters report a robot called Mitra (translating English to ‘friend,’) is in use in some of these facilities, to help patients connect with family and caregivers as well as medical professionals who may be unable to visit a ward in person at a given time.
Noting that Mitra uses facial recognition to identify those who the robot has spoken to, the authors report the robot is made by a company called Invento Robotics out of Bangalore, and costs about the equivalent of $13,600 U.S.
“It takes a lot of time to recover, and during this time, when patients need their families the most, they are unable to visit,” said Dr Arun Lakhanpal, a doctor at the Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension in the New Delhi metro area, explaining the utility of Mitra in a clinical context.
Originally, Mitra was made as a hospitalities robot with customer service functionality.
“The Mitra can recognise your guests with face recognition and engage them in conversations while alerting the hosts of guest arrival,” write spokespersons at the company’s web site. “It can also automate a variety of things at your lobby that both decreases the operations cost and improves the customer experience.”
Bringing robotics to human interaction is a great example of technologies that feature “human in the loop” or HITL design, where we have relative control of the artificial intelligence or other capabilities that our technologies possess.
This example also represents a benign use of facial recognition, at a time when people need reminders that the technology can be used for anything other than spying on people.
Factor these sorts of robotics advances into your tech portfolio and look for further development as robots become our helping hands around the world.