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Telepresence Robot To Join Doctors On Rounds Next Month

March 28, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
Telepresence_Robot.jpgMarch 27, 2012 by Peter Murray via -- Another robot wants to give busy doctors the ability to be in two places at one time. Reminiscent of - and resembling - iRobot's AVA, the Telepresence Puppet is a telemedicine platform that allows doctors to interact with their patients without actually being with them. Puppet's maker, Singapore-based start-up Ctrl Works, is currently fine-tuning the robot's abilities and will send the mobile robot to accompany doctors on their rounds at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore next month. I got a chance to ask Ctrl Works Chief Executive, Sim Kai, about the vision behind the Puppet and how soon we can expect to see it doing the doctor's biddings.

The Puppet features a touchscreen LCD display with a camera, microphone and a speaker for two-way communcation. The doctor can control the display, adjusting its direction to see the patient better. And it is mounted on a mobile pedestal so that the doctor can drive it too. The base is equipped with sensors to avoid collisions. Depending on the doctor's needs - and budget - he or she can choose a camera with or without zoom, a 5" or 10" display, and either 3G or 4G wifi connectivity.

Obviously the main hope is that the Puppet reduces doctor's workloads. This is a significant concern in a place like Singapore with only 1.7 doctors per 1,000 patients. To lessen the load, Puppets can be on site at satellite hospitals that doctors normally need to travel to in order to check up on recovering patients that they'd previously treated. The Puppet would also come in handy for an application often emphasized for AVA: assisted home care. A Puppet would be perfect at nursing homes, for example, where patients need minimal but constant care.

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