Healthy Ageing and Service Robotics

As part of PCL Health’s Healthy Ageing series on Clubhouse, on 24 June 2021, we spoke to guest speaker Juan Cabrera about healthy ageing and the role that robotics might play.

Juan Cabrera is the founder and head of business at Euroyen. Since 2017, he has been involved with clients relating to electronics and the Internet of Things, which has opened up a new door towards working on emerging technologies more broadly. That led to his active participation within 15 UK parliamentary groups and other global organisations. He is also involved in the Government Blockchain Association and all of his technology activities focus on improving the well-being of people. Currently, Juan is working along with his colleague, Jonathan, CTO of Bumerania Robotics, on projects in robotics and health care.

Euroyen group has evolved as a decentralised, autonomous organisation covering five sectors: healthcare and mental health, industry 4.0, social impact, international trade, and precious metals and mining. In the healthcare sector, Juan Cabrera’s Swiss business partner builds hospitals globally. Together they continued their work which involves supplying medical equipment directly from the manufacturers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, this included delivering respirators via working with embassies on the ground.

When it comes to mental health, Juan & Andy Bilmon started Eagle of Hope; an organisation focused on providing consultancy & digital solutions for the public & private sector. Among other projects, we aim to integrate the AI robots in the education sector for mental health support such as bullying, etc.

Juan got involved in the distribution of Bumerania in the UK through his Swiss partner. He is optimistic that robotics and AI will be a very important part of the future in healthcare. However, part of his concern is that some of the robotic solutions for the ageing are quite expensive, and only a small percentage of people can afford them. Besides, these solutions don’t yet incorporate mental health, which is one of the major issues of concern regarding ageing.

This leaves most people with one solution: service robotics, which is more affordable and does more than just helping older people manage simple daily tasks. A service robot gives primary mental health support. Countries like Japan, which has an increasingly ageing population, have already developed AI robots that connect to the users emotionally. The fact that a Japanese astronaut took one of the robots to the space station as a companion says a lot about the ability of robots. This was a game-changer. It’s evident that robots can help people cope with loneliness which is exactly what elderly people need.

The fact that a Japanese astronaut took one of these robots to the space station as a companion says a lot about the ability of robots. This was a game-changer. It’s evident that robots can help people cope with loneliness which is exactly what elderly people need.

Do robots have the capability to respond to questions in a smart way?

Robots have machine learning capabilities that allow them to interact. In regards to mental health, this feature makes it possible for robots to offer basic emotional support to people suffering from depression, dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The ageing process comes with many changes that Juan experienced personally as he cared for his grandparents. As old people age and illness take a toll on them, it becomes increasingly difficult to give them the care they require. Besides, the back and forth of providing the best possible care often takes a toll on the family members. AI provides a solution to this burden. It has everything it takes to help family members and carers take better care of the ageing family members.

For starters, AI robots can speak up to 20 languages. Secondly, they can provide entertainment when commanded to do so. Whether it’s dancing, watching movies or listening to music, you only need to give it a command. You can personalize the settings to meet your personal needs.

More than that, AI robots have a facial recognition feature that alerts the carer in case of an intruder. If there’s an accident, depending on the configuration, the AI robot can call the carer, the doctor or emergency services. It can also monitor vitals, including blood pressure, heart rate or glucose. In addition, it makes telemedicine possible. Through IoT and sensors, the robot can collect data that doctors can use for diagnosis and prevention. In essence, family members or caregivers can always be at peace knowing their loved ones are under surveillance 24/7.

When it comes to a nursing home, a service robot can work collaboratively with the carer using the same features outlined above. With the service robot taking care of the repetitive tasks, the carer can put their effort where it’s needed the most, offering emotional support.

What are the other possibilities of AI and Robotics?

With partnership from external organisations and support from PCL health, there is a possibility of developing robots for children in schools to support them, especially for mental health during the Covid-19 or in cases of bullying. If children could interact with robots and share their feelings and problems with them, it will have a positive, long-term impact on the children’s approach and attitude towards robots. Instead of the fear that robots are a threat to humanity, introducing robots early on in children’s life will help develop relationships with them and, probably with time, spark interest in other people.

There are many opportunities that robots can open up to humanity, and specifically, the potential it has in the education sector is huge. As technology progresses, robots are developing consciousness and emotions. Currently, Bumerania is working with a company that has been developing robotics for the past ten years. The robots can extract over 30,000 key points. And with these E bonds, they are able to detect how we are feeling emotionally such as whether you’re paying attention, distracted, happy, depressed, or lying. It’s more accurate than a polygraph and police officers are even using it in Spain.

But the funding and the real interesting applications here is a study that’s been done with 2.5 million children in Mexico. The new software can analyse a child’s face and tell if they are being bullied at school or home. The possibilities with robots are limitless. You can have a robot that’s interacting casually with children. It can entertain them, or the child could just be showing the robot their recent drawings or thinking about his day. We can extract all this information. This information can then be processed by specialists, providing all kinds of support and corrective measures. And with these AI embedded systems, we can extract whether the children are paying attention and enjoying the classes.

How can AI and robots assist people in ageing more healthily?

Right now, PCL health, is bringing into our platform the capability of determining some vital signs via a selfie camera. It is very simple to use — you just tilt the phone’s camera so you don’t even need a sophisticated camera to do that. And the AI can read the information and tell you your blood pressure, SPL, heart rate, stress level, and the list goes on. This only takes 40 seconds or less.

There are so many different ways this could be used to help the elderly people, to prevent illnesses and preventable diseases. They only need to look at their phone’s camera. The phone will detect whether the person is developing some chronic condition or whether their health is deteriorating.

As technology advances, robot support will look significantly different because so many tests can be automated that humans are not required to do. Humans can do things they should do, such as social skills, interacting with people, caring for them, talking with them, and so on.

What are the collaboration opportunities for companies vested in health care and robotics?

For collaboration to happen, at least the interested parties must prove to a particular extent that the innovation is working. In theory, discussions about how robots can transform the healthcare system are mind-blowing. However, since players in the industry have been burned before, it helps to have a baseline work for a specific population. It would even be better if the innovation is tested among a few people to show its workability. Again collaborating with different players during these preliminary stages like the universities or HSN can help build evidence-based solutions useful for the people.

Secondly, creating awareness about robotics is crucial. This opens up opportunities to work with different sectors in the UK, keeping in mind that each sector would require a different technology solution. Already, there are collaborations with various partners who are also interested in seeing robots work. Since there is evidence that it’s already working in other countries, we are confident that the strategy will work here.

The vision for robotics is more of an open-source project, where everyone can collaborate because we want to do better for humanity at the end of the day. We want to push robotics to serve us, be with us, and enable us to live better lives. Also, as you grow older, be with you, support you and give you all the tools necessary to maintain yourself, independent from anyone. The longest.

We are open to collaborating with whatever company with a solution that could benefit society, and a robot can help promote this solution. Make it more useful. Making it reach more people or enabling them a mobile platform of operations to control and manage these systems will be great.

We want to promote good technology that helps us all. For example, PCL health has an excellent system that measures biometric data and provides an AI-based system. We believe, for instance, with robots, this useful information can be used to provide health care to anyone who needs it regardless of the place that they’re in, as long as one has access to the robot and the hardware.

A practical example is what’s been done in the past with smartwatches. In the beginning, it was just a digital watch that had some music. Today, most of the smartwatches around the World incorporate sensors that give biometric data with oxygen levels, blood levels, and so on. It’s clear that the possibilities with robots and working with third-party apps is just mind-blowing.

What is Bumerania doing to make service robotics accessible for everyone in the world?

One of the strategies that we use is leasing. But this will be pegged on providing tailored solutions that meet the client’s needs. In the long run, we will find ways to make it accessible. As of today, robotics is a new area in terms of development. For example, my degree in robotics was just invented six years ago. So, today robotics may seem expensive. It mainly focuses on industrial robotics because these systems have to be precise and strong. But the cost has dropped significantly since its beginning. Robots cost a fraction of the price that they did back in the day.

With mass production and the adoption of those systems, the costs of robots will be brought down. This year we’re trying to focus on developing the software and hardware that will be better for us, and as soon as we’ve developed them, they’ll be available. Generally, the robot will come with a wide range of applications and enable connectivity with third-party developers for free.

The idea is to start with a platform that today may be high end in terms of pricing. But we believe that in 5 to 10 years, it will be easy. You just have to let technology do its thing. And the prices will go down as soon as more people come into the shape of social robotics. At the end of the day, buying a robot will be like buying any other electronic commodity.

For next year our top priority is health care and having robots in school helping children. The preliminary stages are already underway, and we are determined to make it happen.

Join the Healthy Ageing Room to get invited to all our future events on Clubhouse.

If you’d like to see a glimpse of the future and request a demo of PCL Health’s remote monitoring platform, contact us to book a time.

For more about Juan Cabrera, find his profile on Linked In.

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Innovating for longer, healthier lives (formerly Poonyah Care)

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