Hong Kong: The Hong Kong team behind the celebrity humanoid robot Sophia is launching a new prototype, Grace, aimed at the healthcare market and designed to interact with the elderly and people isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grace, dressed in a blue nurse uniform, has the characteristics of an Asian. The brown hair that grows to the neckline and the thermal imaging camera on her chest can measure your body temperature and measure your reaction ability. She uses artificial intelligence to diagnose patients and speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
“I can visit with people and brighten their day with social stimulation … but can also do talk therapy, take bio readings and help healthcare providers,” Grace told Reuters as she stood next to her “sister”, Sophia, in creator Hanson Robotics’ Hong Kong workshop.
Grace’s resemblance to a healthcare professional and capacity for social interaction is aimed at relieving the burden of front-line hospital staff overwhelmed during the pandemic, said founder David Hanson.
“A human-like appearance facilitates trust and natural engagement because we are wired for human face-to-face interactions,” Hanson said, explaining how Grace can simulate the action of more than 48 major facial muscles, and has a comforting demeanour designed to look a little like anime characters, often a fusion of Asian and Western styles.
David Lake, CEO of the Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio joint venture, said that Awakening Health plans to mass-produce the beta version of Grace by August, and plans to fully deploy her in mainland China and other places next year.
Hansen added that the cost of manufacturing robots is now similar to the pricing of luxury cars, and once the company has manufactured tens or hundreds of thousands of units, it will be reduced.
Kim Min-Sun, professor of communications at the University of Hawaii, said that the launch of Grace coincides with the global impact of the coronavirus making the demand for humanoid robots urgent.
Being trapped at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, the mental state of many people is affected by negative thoughts.
“If they can get help by deploying these social robots in an intimate environment, it will definitely have a positive impact on society,” she said.