The world's population is aging, and very fast. By 2030, people over age 60 will comprise 25% of the U.S. population (Department of Health and Human Services, Administration of Aging Report, 2005). The number of elderly people that depend on the working-age population will also increase substantially. For social and human reasons, the development of new technologies to ease the task of caring for elderly people acquires a strategic importance.
iRobot (famous for vacuum-cleaning robots) offers a solution in the guise of a companion robot (US Patent No: US 7957837 B2). The robot has a small body, with a display "face" for interacting with humans. It can recognize and interact with people, as well as help them with medication dispensing and walking.
On the figure, the head (16) of the robot carries the following elements:
Face: An interactive liquid crystal display which can show emotions.
Eyes: Cameras (28) (charge-coupled device) to provide stereoscopic vision.
Ears: Microphone (32) to collect audio data or receive commands.