The effects of COVID-19 are not new to us— sore throat, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, loss of speech or mobility, even death. Besides the obvious, the mental health of the people is also greatly affected. Fear, anxiety, uncertainties, isolation; these are just some of the things that we might be experiencing. In fact, according to KFF Health Tracking Poll, 41% of adults as of January 2021 are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder.
Now, come robots, which are already mainstream to us. We have been utilizing them to help us in our everyday lives— cleaning, lifting heavy packages, food sorting, medical training. With the power of artificial intelligence, these droids can also be utilized in therapy or emotional support.
These are three examples:
Sophia the Robot
Created by Hanson Robotics, this human-like bot can hold conversations, convey a range of emotions, and even check your body temperature, bio signs, and bioreading through a sensor. She can then send the reports directly to your doctor. Sophia is, in fact, a robot celebrity with lots of guesting and interview. With COVID-related challenges like maintaining social distance and shortage of medical workforce, we could definitely use Sophia’s help.
Aimed to help children regulate their emotions and provide companionship, Sproutel came up with the idea of Purrble. This adorable plushy has a heartbeat that starts quickly and slows down as you pet it, which in turn calms you down, too. According to Aaron Horowitz, Sproutel’s CEO, the robotic toy is even being used by stressed-out millennials. Purrble has two siblings: Jerry the Bear for Type 1 diabetes patients and Aflac Duck for kids with cancer.
According to Tom Stevens, TomBot’s CEO, Jennie is the world’s most realistic and affordable robotic emotional support animal. It looks, feels, and behaves like a live dog, and responds to touch and voice commands. Its nose is even damp! Jennie was designed to help dementia patients soothe behavioral and psychological symptoms through emotional connection and companionship, and eliminating the use of psychotropics and opioids. Cool, right?
It is unknown when this pandemic is going to be over, so never take your mental health for granted. Make sure to take a break, be it doing yoga, binge-watching on the weekend, talking to your loved ones, or petting these bots.
As Lalah Delia says, “Self-care is how you take your power back.”