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Tech-savvy People More Likely to Accept Robot Doctors, Says Study

According to Sundar, the healthcare industry can benefit from increased reliance on automated systems

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Technology
Avatarmind's iPal Smart AI Robots, designed to be companions for children and elderly, perform calisthenics during the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 9, 2018. VOA

People with advanced computer skills are more likely to accept and use digital healthcare services and robot doctors, says a study by an Indian-origin researcher.

“There is increasing use of automated systems in the medical field, where intake is now often conducted through a kiosk instead of by a receptionist,” said S Shyam Sundar, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.

“We investigated user acceptance of these ‘robot receptionists,’ along with automated nurses and doctors,” Sundar added.

For the study, scientists recruited participants from the online workforce Amazon Mechanical Turk to gain a better understanding of user psychology behind the acceptance of automation in clinics.

The research team gauged the participants’ preconceived beliefs about and attitudes toward machines — what is called a “machine heuristic.”

The team measured participants’ adherence to the machine heuristic by asking them to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as, “When machines, rather than humans, complete a task, the results are more accurate.”

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai. (VOA)

“We found that if you’re high on machine heuristic and you’re high on power usage, you have the most positive attitude toward automated healthcare providers. This combination seems to make people more accepting of these technologies,” said Sundar.

“A power user (a person with advanced computer skills) is more likely to accept a robot doctor, for example, than a non-power user,” Sundar added.

The results were presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Glasgow, Scotland.

According to Sundar, the healthcare industry can benefit from increased reliance on automated systems.

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“Doctors are limited by their human bandwidth, by their experience, knowledge and even state of mind from minute to minute,” he said.

“In contrast, machines can be programmed to ‘think’ of all the possible conditions that a patient’s symptoms could point to, and they never get tired. Some level of automation is clearly needed.” (IANS)

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Now Comes an Assistive Robot To Help Elderly Live Independently

The robot then used its mapping and navigation camera, sensors and software to find the person and offer assistance

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Robots
New assistive robot to help elderly live independently. Pixabay

Scientists have created a robot that could help elderly people with dementia and other limitations live independently in their own homes.

The Robot Activity Support System, or RAS, developed by the Washington State University (WSU), uses sensors embedded in a smart home to determine where its residents are, what they are doing and when they need assistance with daily activities.

It navigates through rooms and around obstacles to find people on its own, provides video instructions on how to do simple tasks and can even lead its owner to objects like their medication or a snack in the kitchen.

“RAS combines the convenience of a mobile robot with the activity detection technology of a WSU smart home to provide assistance in the moment, as the need for help is detected,” said Bryan Minor, postdoctoral student at the WSU.

With a number of adults over 85 needing assistance with every day activities such as preparing meals and taking medication, the researchers hope that technologies like RAS and the smart home will alleviate some of the financial strain on the healthcare system and make it easier for older adults to live alone.

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai (VOA)

“Upwards of 90 per cent of older adults prefer to age in place as opposed to moving into a nursing home,” said Diane Cook, Professor at the WSU.

“We want to make it so that instead of bringing in a caregiver or sending these people to a nursing home, we can use technology to help them live independently on their own,” Cook added.

In the study, detailed in the journal Cognitive Systems Research, the team recruited a small group of students to complete three activities — getting ready to walk the dog, taking medication with food and water and watering household plants — in a smart home with RAS as an assistant.

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When the smart home sensors detected a human failed to initiate or was struggling with one of the tasks, RAS received a message to help.

The robot then used its mapping and navigation camera, sensors and software to find the person and offer assistance. (IANS)