The Hong Kong team behind the famous humanoid robot Sophia launches a new prototype, Grace, targeted at the healthcare market and designed to interact with the elderly and those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dressed in a blue nurse uniform, Grace has Asian features, collar-long brown hair and a thermal camera in her chest to take your temperature and measure your responsiveness. She uses artificial intelligence to diagnose a patient and can speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Grace’s resemblance to a healthcare professional and capacity for social interaction aims to alleviate the burden of frontline personnel overwhelmed during the pandemic, said founder David Hanson.
“A human-like appearance facilitates trust and natural engagement because we are connected to human face-to-face interactions,” Hanson said, explaining how Grace can simulate the effects of more than 48 large facial muscles and has a comforting behavior designed to resemble anime characters, often a mix of Asian and Western styles.
Awakening Health plans to mass-produce a beta version of Grace in August, said David Lake, CEO of the joint venture between Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio, and plans to fully implement her next year in locations including Hong Kong , China. , Japan and Korea.
The cost of manufacturing the robots, which now resemble luxury car pricing, will fall as the company manufactures tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of units, Hanson added.
Grace’s launch comes as the global impact of coronavirus has made the need for humanoid robots urgent, said Kim Min-Sun, a communications professor at the University of Hawaii.
Sitting at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, many people have had their mental states affected with negative thoughts.
“If they can get help through the implementation of these social robots in intimate settings, it will certainly have a positive impact on society,” she said.
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