Singapore’s New Exercise Coach for Seniors Is a Bit Robotic
Robocoach will help the country’s aging population get (and stay) in shape.
Singapore has the world’s third-fastest aging population—while residents 65 and older became 9.3 percent of the country in 2009, that number is projected to hit a whopping 19 percent by 2030. Who will care for greying Singapore? It appears the country at least has its daily exercise covered. Its Infocomm Development Authority introduced Robocoach earlier this month, a “fitness-minded cyborg” who will be making his (her?) way to at least 25 Singapore senior centers in the next few months.
As CNET reports, Robocoach can lead senior-friendly exercise classes all on its own. The robot is equipped with two screens: A tablet on its head, which conveys emotions through a human-like face display, and another, larger one on its “chest,” which demonstrates fitness movements to class participants.
Robocoach also comes equipped with motions sensors, which help it to determine whether seniors are doing the moves correctly, and provide one-on-one feedback.
The humonid exercise instructor was developed by students at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic school, and presented at a government-run tech exhibition earlier this month that focused on internet technologies for the elderly.
"As chronic diseases become more prevalent with a greying population, [Information Technology] has immense potential to make healthcare more accurate and reliable and, at the same time, more convenient and comfortable for our seniors,” Singapore Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said at the event.
llustration by Tom Eichacker
Using robots to help seniors is not a new idea. Rapidly aging Japan is has also experimented with using robots as cheaper, more readily available caregivers, with mixed success. As GOOD’s own Mark Hay wrote earlier this year, allowing robots to assist in senior care may feel wrong, but “it increasingly seems both inevitable and our best option for maintaining the aging human race.”