The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need to minimize human-to-human interaction between healthcare workers and patients, highlighting the benefits of using robots.
3D structural-sensing robots were developed that can passively gather patient information. A research team programmed two robots — a humanoid figure and a robotic arm (shown in the photo) — to measure human physiological signals. The robotic arm, created using 3D-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 (that 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.
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Sensing robots could measure essential healthcare information on behalf of care providers, minimizing or eliminating patient contact.
The researchers plan further development and testing of the robot together with healthcare collaborators. At this stage, the robots are capable of passively gathering patient information. Within the next decade, it is conceivable that healthcare robots fitted with artificial intelligence could take a more active role, interacting with the patient, processing the data they collect, and even prescribing medication.