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Robosoft Unveils Kompai Robot To Assist Elderly, Disabled

The French robotics company has introduced a robot designed to assist elderly and disabled people in their daily activities

2 min read
Robosoft Unveils Kompai Robot To Assist Elderly, Disabled

French service robotics company Robosoft has introduced a robot called Kompaï designed to assist elderly and disabled people and others who need special care. The mobile robot talks, understands speech, and can navigate autonomously. It reminds people of meetings, keeps track of shopping lists, plays music, and works as a videoconference system for users to talk with their doctors, for example.

The video below is pretty awesome. It shows a senior at Broca Hospital, in Paris, interacting with the robot after receiving only a few minutes of training. The man asks the robot about the time, date, and whether he has any appointments that day; Kompaï gives answers in a computerized voice.

"Robot?" the man says. "What can I do for you?" Kompaï responds. The man asks what is on the shopping list. "Fourteen apple, four cheese, and 18 tomato," the bot responds. The man says, "Add five eggs to the shopping list." Done.

The video also demonstrates how the man uses the robot when he doesn't feel well. "Robot, I'm not fine," the man says. "Where does it hurt?" Kompaï replies. The robot goes on to ask a series of questions and then tells the man that it sent that information to his doctor by email.

My favorite part is toward the end, when the man gives the robot the following command:

"Robot," he says, "leave me alone."

"OK. I stop talking. Call me when you like," Kompaï responds and promptly leaves the room.

This is how Robosoft describes Kompaï:

It is a mobile and communicative product. Somewhat like a dog, it has its "basket," which is the recharging dock that it heads back to when its batteries are low. Equipped with speech, it is able to understand simple orders and give a certain level of response. It knows its position within the house, how to get from one point to another on demand or on its own initiative, and it remains permanently connected to the internet and all its associated services.

Its primary means of communication with people is speech, with an additional touch screen that features simple icons. Future generations of Kompaï will be equipped with visual abilities, and also the possibility to understand and express emotions. And later, the addition of arms will allow it to handle objects, leading to meal preparation and tidying; more practical functions, yet still fundamental in everyday life.

The first generation of the robot, to be officially introduced next week at the Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference in New Orleans, is an R&D platform, "intended for developers who would like to implement their own robotics applications for assistance," Vincent Dupourqué, CEO of Robosoft, said in a statement.

Robosoft is one of Europe's largest service robotics companies. They are famous (at least to me) for their robot that cleans the Louvre glass pyramid.

Make sure you watch Kompaï in action:

[youtube expand=1]


Correction: The Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference will take place in New Orleans from March 14-17, 2010.

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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