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Old 10-04-2007, 11:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Lauren Caye's Avatar
 
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"Robots May Aid Aging in Japan"

(found this while studying current events)

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/ro...rs-japan_N.htm

TOKYO If you grow old in Japan, expect to be served food by a robot, ride a voice-recognition wheelchair or even possibly hire a nurse in a robotic suit all examples of cutting-edge technology to care for the country's rapidly graying population.

With nearly 22% of Japan's population already aged 65 or older, businesses here have been rolling out everything from easy-entry cars to remote-controlled beds, fueling a care technology market worth some $1.08 billion in 2006, according to industry figures.

At a home care and rehabilitation convention in Tokyo this week, buyers crowded round a demonstration of Secom's My Spoon feeding robot, which helps elderly or disabled people eat with a spoon- and fork-fitted swiveling arm.

Operating a joystick with his chin, developer Shigehisa Kobayashi maneuvered the arm toward a block of silken tofu, deftly getting the fork to break off a bite-sized piece. The arm then returned to a preprogrammed position in front of the mouth, allowing Kobayashi to bite and swallow.

"It's all about empowering people to help themselves," Kobayashi said. The Tokyo-based company has already sold 300 of the robots, which come with a price tag of $3,500.
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