Robotics update etc....

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susan
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Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:23 pm
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Robotics update etc....

Post by susan » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:52 pm

I copied the following newspaper article as I thought some would find it interesting. Please feel free to e mail comments. Nice to be back by the way.

By Tony Butler,
Science Editor. (Independent Herald UK, March 20th 2011)

A new 'hand shaking' machine has been invented by a group of Japanese university students that is designed to take the place of person-to-person hand shaking.
The team of students in Tokyo, led by P.H.D graduate, Shinani Kyomo dreamed up the device in their spare time.
The machine, which consists of a simple box-like structure that contains a 'robotic' hand, has grabbed the interest of some of Tokyo's top business executives, both in the corporate, and most particularly, in the Health sectors.
'At first, we didn't think anyone would take any interest in such a device,' said Shinani, 'but it turns out that some businesses may actually be taking up the offer, however unlikely that seemed at first,' he added.
However, the new device has snags.
'It seems - at least for the time being - that few, if any, Japanese companies would be interested since we bow rather than make physical contact' said one leading Professor at Tokyo University.
'But when it comes to foreign companies, they seem a lot keener,' he added.
'One of the main reasons is that many business people are uncomfortable about physical touch with other clients, and this device is designed to do away with the need for hand shaking for anyone who doesn't like it.'
'It is not meant to abolish physical touch, but only to provide a choice,' added Dr Sheila Nolan, a computer technology specialist of the East London University of Technology.
The idea is now being taken on board by several US and U.K based companies including some hospitals.
'Although the device may seem a little too impersonal for some, it looks deceptively simple but is actually very elaborate,' said Ms Nolan.
'It is very difficult to design a robotic hand that takes on the functions of a human hand, but the technology is the first step towards building hands for humanoid robots that actually ape the movement of the human hand,' she added.
The idea is that when a client wants to say goodbye, instead of shaking hands with their business colleague, they go over to the machine, which has a sensor, and the hand moves to shake the recipient's. The 'strength' of the handshake can be adjusted, from strong to average, to soft, according to the client's preference.
Some hospitals have been keen to view the new invention, and the Health and Safety Executive have also expressed approval on the grounds that it may help to prevent cross-infection, particularly in hospitals and surgeries.
However, the new device is not without its critics. Dr Stephen Glove, of the London Hospital expressed reservations, as have a few of his colleagues.
'We're not really sure about this at all,' he stated bluntly, 'particularly where patients are concerned. People like some physical contact, especially when they need reassurance and help from nurse or doctor. Some touch can help to build trust and I am not sure if it will be very popular here, either with patients or doctors,' he added.



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