Robots, nanobots, human-looking robots…the race is on. It’s not a race to market. It’s actually a race to immortality. The Japanese pioneered the robot development as early as 2005…with RI-MAN:
But the evolution has gone much further and, like so many things, is accelerating.
As the author, Peter Nichol says on CIO.com: Medical nanotechnology is expected to employ nanorobots that will be injected into the patient to perform work at a cellular level. Ingestibles and internables bring forward the introduction of broadband-enabled digital tools that are eaten and “smart” pills that use wireless technology to help monitor internal reactions to medications.
Robotics for healthcare are classified in three main categories of use:
- Direct patient care robots: surgical robots (used for performing clinical procedures), exoskeletons (for bionic extensions of self like the Ekso suit), and prosthetics (replacing lost limbs). Over 500 people a day loses a limb in America with 2 million Americans living with limb loss according to the CDC.
- Indirect patient care robots: pharmacy robots (streamlining automation, autonomous robots for inventory control reducing labor costs), delivery robots (providing medical goods throughout a hospital autonomously), and disinfection robots (interacting with people with known infectious diseases such as healthcare-associated infections or HAIs).
- Home healthcare robots: robotic telepresence solutions (addressing the aging population with robotic assistance).
Why is this hot?
- Robotics, pioneered by the Japanese as early as 2005 (RI-MAN above) is fast moving to nurses with human features and AI ability to do Q&A. They are already in research and university hospitals.
- While the 3 categories are a general framework, the nanobot itself crawling through your bloodstream, checking for cancer cells, knitting your arteries, oxygenating our blood, preventing them from hardening and causing heart disease.
- For those of you under 30 who think your immortal, you may have a chance.
I leave you with a forward-looking TED TALK on this topic from January, 2017: