Thai company develops robots to help Alzheimer patients
A Thai company has developed a new robot capable of providing care for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, and unlike an earlier version of its invention the new model is designed for home use and the mass market, and company officials said last week they expect to sell 5,000 of them next year.
CT Robotics, the firm that developed the robot, unveiled the first version of its invention named “Dinsow” in late 2014. The new version, Dinsow Mini 2, is smaller and more advanced and was created with mass production as a goal. About 20 hospitals in Thailand, including Siriraj and Chulalongkorn Hospitals in Bangkok, have already been using the previous version known as Dinsow Mini.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most challenging health care issues that affect many families. Relatives often face difficult and heartbreaking choices between trying to keep a suffering family member who needs round-the-clock care at home or place them in a facility, which can be expensive and leave them vulnerable to neglect or even abuse.
“The elderly will be in the eyes of their family at all times as Dinsow Mini 2, as their companion, will immediately alert and contact the family if any urgent incident occurs, especially if there is a difference in the face or unusual behavior,” said Chalermpon Punnotok, chief executive officer of CT Robotics.
The Dinsow Mini 2 is programmed with voice recognition, voice command, facial recognition and also artificial intelligence (AI) features that allow the robot to learn more about the elderly person’s voice, face, behavior, and lifestyle while in use. The robot also contains brain exercises for the elderly and is programmed to encourage those in its care to do them.
Dinsow Mini 2 also possesses cellular capability and Wi-Fi connectivity along with its camera, speaker, and touch-screen monitor to make it easy for the elderly to instantly communicate with their family.
Chalermpon said his company is aiming to sell 5,000 Dinsow Mini 2 in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong over the next 12 months. Its retail price of $2,591 is a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring a nurse or home health care worker.
Saito Masaru, operator of 80 nursing homes in Japan, told The Nation newspaper in Thailand that his company plans to buy 200 Dinsow Mini 2 for its facilities.
The company is also manufacturing a larger, more complex version of Dinsow for use in institutions and costs almost ten times as much as the mini version.