IBM Research and Rice University have brought their engineering expertise together to create the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA). The prototype is just a start of a collaboration that hopes to combine a variety of sensors with “cognitive computing” to help doctors and caretakers better understand the needs of stay-at-home elderly people.
The sensors will be able to hear, smell, detect motion, and measure the environment for humidity, temperature, and the like. Thanks to Rice University’s technology, the robot will also measure the heart rate and heart rate variability of a person in front of it by simply looking at the slight change of skin color as blood moves in and out of it. Because of its contact-free nature, the robot should be able to monitor at home without being too much of a nuisance.