Meet Grace, the health robot created by COVID-19

By Joyce Zhou

HONG KONG, June 9 (Reuters) – The Hong Kong team behind the famous humanoid robot Sophia is launching a new prototype, Grace, aimed at the healthcare market and designed to interact with the elderly and those isolated by the COVID pandemic -19.

Dressed in a blue nurse’s uniform, Grace has Asian features, shoulder-length brown hair and a thermal imaging 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.

“I can visit people and brighten their day with social stimulation… but I can also do talk therapy, take bio readings and help health care providers,” Grace told Reuters then. that she was standing next to her “sister,” Sophia, in designer Hanson’s Hong Kong Robotics Workshop.

Grace’s resemblance to a healthcare professional and her ability for social interaction is aimed at alleviating the burden on front-line hospital staff overwhelmed during the pandemic, founder David Hanson said.

“A human appearance facilitates trust and natural engagement, as we are wired for face-to-face human interactions,” said Hanson, explaining how Grace can simulate the action of more than 48 major facial muscles and has a heartwarming demeanor. designed to look a bit like anime characters, often a fusion of Asian and Western styles.

Awakening Health intends to mass-produce a beta version of Grace by August, said David Lake, managing director of the joint venture between Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio, and is expected to fully deploy it next year in places such as Hong Kong, Mainland China, Japan and Korea.

The cost of manufacturing robots, which is now akin to the price of luxury cars, will drop once the company manufactures tens or hundreds of thousands of units, Hanson added.

Grace’s launch comes as the global impact of the coronavirus has made the need for humanoid robots urgent, said Kim Min-Sun, professor of communications at the University of Hawaii.

Stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, many people have seen their mental states affected by negative thoughts.

“If they can get help by deploying these social robots in intimate environments, it will definitely have a positive impact on society,” she said.

(Written by Farah Master; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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