IBM, Rice University partner on robot that will take care of the elderly

IBM is working with Houston-based Rice University to create sensors for a robot that will help senior citizens remain healthy and safe while living alone, according to Business Insider.

The sensors IBM is developing can perceive changes in motion, audio and scent. Once fully developed, the sensors will go inside the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA), which IBM has been testing at its Austin-based "Aging in Place" lab. In addition to detecting when a senior citizen has fallen down, the MERA robot has Watson-powered speech recognition and a camera that reads facial expressions.

MERA isn't available to the general public yet. "In the near-term, it would be more of the ambient sensors in the home starting to gather all of this data," said Susann Keohane, a senior technologist at IBM Research.

When it does become commercially available, Ms. Keohane expects it will first be marketed in a country such as Japan, where aging among the general populous has become a national concern.

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