Eating is a primary need, and many of us take it for granted. But what if the daily ritual of holding a fork, picking up food, and putting it in your mouth were impossible?
Last week, I came across a robot that detects the food on your plate and feeds you your desired dish. Here is a video:
This meal assistance system was developed by Isao Wakabayashi, an undergrad at Chukyo University, Japan. He used the Rascal robot set from Robix, and wrote his own image processing software to automatically recognize meal items. It labels all the pieces on your plate, so that you can use voice command to choose your next bite. "Pudding, please!"
Researchers are developing meal assistance robots like this for those unable to feed themselves, for example due to accident or illness. In fact, the Japanese company Secom has been selling their MySpoon robot for at least five years. Wakabayashi's work could have the ability to help this assistive technology become more automatic, user-friendly, and affordable.
In a world where robots are being used for work, play, and even war, hopefully these assistive robots can help us enjoy one of life's simple pleasures: eating.