In 2009, the household robot manufacturer iRobot Corp. announced their newest department, iRobot Healthcare.
Since then they have remained silent about their developments.
The robot, christened the iRobot RP-Vita, stands at a height of 5’4″, and has two touch-screen monitors built-in.
The Vita works as a remote-controlled robot, and functions using wheels and remote sensors to navigate hallways and avoid obstacles. Rather than directing the robot’s movements using a joystick or similar controller, operators simpy click on the robot’s pre-programmed destinations.
iRobot is currently being rented out to hospitals for $4,000 – $6,000 per month. While this may seem like a high price, compared to the cost of hiring an on-location doctor for remote hospitals in places such as Asia, India, and South America, $50,000 each year is relatively affordable.
The Vita lets operators remotely visit patients, check real-time vital signs, converse with patients and nurses, and more. It runs on a customized iPad app that also comes with the Vita. This marks an important milestone in furthering healthcare technology. Rather than wasting time and money by flying doctors to and from patient locations, medical practitioners can simply log-on to the Vita from anywhere in the world, and assist on-location nurses and staff.
The next step in the process is to make the Vita a little more responsive to remote commands, lower the price, and include increased computer and hardware functionality. Pretty soon we’ll likely find ourselves under the care of a remote doctor using a robot similar to the Vita.
That’s not to say that all medical personnel will begin working at home from now on, but with doctors already in high demand around the globe, robots are a practical and affordable solution.
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