Robots that could take on basic healthcare tasks to support the work of doctors and nurses may be the way of the future. Who knows, maybe a medical robot can prescribe your medicine someday? That’s the idea behind 3-D structural-sensing robots being developed.
The recent pandemic demonstrates the need to minimize human-to-human interaction between healthcare workers and patients, there’s an opportunity for sensing robots to measure essential healthcare information on behalf of care providers in the future.
A team of researchers programmed two robots, a humanoid figure, and a robotic arm, to measure human physiological signals. The robotic arm, created using 3-D printed origami structures, contains biomedical electrodes on the tip of each finger. When the hand touches a person, it detects physiological signals, including those from an electrocardiogram (which monitors heartbeat), respiration rate, electromyogram (monitoring electrical signals from muscle movements), and temperature. The humanoid robot can also monitor oxygen levels, which could be used to monitor the condition of those who develop severe COVID-19. The data can be viewed in real-time on the robot’s monitor or sent directly to the healthcare provider.
Further development and testing of the robot together with healthcare collaborators are being planned. At this stage, the robots are capable of passively gathering patient information. But within the next decade, it’s conceivable that healthcare robots fitted with artificial intelligence could take a more active role, interacting with the patient, processing the data they have collected, and even prescribing medication.
Further study will also need to involve determining acceptance levels for this type of technology among various age groups, from youth to seniors, in a hospital setting.