IBM Research and Rice University have teamed up to design a prototype robot tasked with helping senior citizens. Dubbed IBM MERA for Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant, the device is enabled with IBM’s Watson technology. Watson is a speech-to-text and text-to-speech computer system developed by IBM. In IBM MERA, the application is designed to aid the elderly and assist caregivers.
The joint research project is housed in the newly opened ThinkLab’s “Aging in Place environment” located in Austin, TX. IBM Research is studying how data collected from a room’s atmosphere, motion and the act of falling, as well as audio and olfactory sensors can be used to improve eldercare provided by caregivers. In addition to Watson technologies, IBM MERA’s researchers hope to use the robot to study new, innovative ways to measure vital signs, answer basic health-related questions and determine whether an individual has fallen through CameraVitals—a Rice University engineered technology.