Panasonic shows us its softer side, intros trio of high-tech robotic helpers

The infirm in Japan have nothing to fear when it comes to assisted care -- except maybe for a robot revolt. From the land that gave us the robo-care bear, comes three new compassionate tech solutions for elderly care taking courtesy of Panasonic. Shown off ahead of this October's 38th International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo, the electronics giant has updated its currently in residence medication monger with HOSPI-Rimo -- a refreshed design that links the "bed ridden [and those with] limited mobility" to doctors, family and friends via its HD interface. And just because you're staying at home, it doesn't mean the company's Hair-Washing bot can't help you get your hair did, and listen to you complain about how the kids never come to see you anymore. For the piece de assistance, Panasonic's also gone and modded a bed that's more than meets the eye -- literally, as it transforms into an electric wheelchair to scoot you about the house. We have to hand it to the tech outfit, our latter days are starting to look pretty cutting edge.

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September 26, 2011 05:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Panasonic to Unveil Innovative Communication Assistance Robot "HOSPI-Rimo" and New Models of Hair-Washing Robot and "RoboticBed®" at International H.C.R. 2011
International H.C.R. 2011

OSAKA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Panasonic Corporation today announced the development of an innovative communication assistance robot named "HOSPI-Rimo" and new models of its Hair-Washing Robot and RoboticBed®. These robots are designed to support people who need assistance to lead safe, comfortable and pleasant lives. Panasonic will showcase prototypes of these three robots at the 38th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.2011) to be held from October 5 - 7, 2011 at the Tokyo Big Site.

HOSPI-Rimo serves as an intermediary to enable comfortable communication between people who are bed ridden or have limited mobility to communicate with other people, for example, their attending doctor in a separate room in the hospital or friends who live far away, as if they were interacting face to face. Panasonic developed "HOSPI" automatic medication delivery robot, which is used in hospitals in Japan and other countries. HOSPI-Rimo employs HOSPI's autonomous mobility technology and high-definition visual communications technology Panasonic is renowned for.

The new Hair-Washing Robot can complete the entire process of hair washing automatically, from wetting to shampooing, rinsing, conditioning and drying. When the first model was unveiled at the same exhibition last year, it received great response, including requests for additional functions and commercialization. The new model features washing arms with more fingers and improved mechanics than the previous model to give more comfortable washing experience.

RoboticBed®, an electric bed transformable into an electric wheelchair and vice versa, also attracted much interest, including commercialization, when it was first introduced at H.C.R. 2009. Since then, Panasonic has made constant improvements by incorporating requests from both caregivers and recipients, as well as by finding solutions for practical and safety issues identified through its activities under the Project for Practical Applications of Service Robots coordinated by NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization), an independent Japanese administrative agency. Panasonic has been developing safety technologies and guidelines under the project.

The Robotic Canopy, introduced together with the RoboticBed®, also received a number of requests, including easier installation and more user-friendly way of communication. These requests have led the company to develop the new communication assistance robot, HOSPI-Rimo.

Combining its expertise in robotics and information technology, Panasonic aims to meet the needs of both of those who give and those who receive care by offering robots as well as robot system solutions that provide total support through collaboration between robots and humans.