Another day, another freaky-ass robot at CES 2022.
The latest to hit our radar is Pedia-Roid, a truly terrifying entrant to the uncanny valley designed for use in training healthcare workers to treat children. It’s got all the horror of a CPR dummy, plus teeth.
According to tmsuk, the startup behind Pedia-Roid, “The body is soft as human skin, and can realistically express general symptoms like; convulsive movements, changes in facial and pupil color, etc.” It also simulates breathing and a heartbeat, and can be jabbed with needles for those practicing drawing blood.
It’s a good thing, really — There is an undeniable benefit to having a robot like this at healthcare workers’ disposal, of course. However creepy it may be, the more realistic a training scenario is, the better prepared they’ll be when it comes time to put those skills to use on a real human being. Or, more specific to this case, a child patient.
Children present a host of challenges in emergency situations that responders may be less likely to face when dealing with adult patients. They’re squirmy, they’re terrified, they don’t necessarily know how to communicate the things they’re feeling in the moment. Having been a child who spent a lot of time in the hospital myself, I know this scenario pretty intimately. A well-trained medical staff that has hands-on experience dealing with kids can make all the difference in the world.
Pedia-Roid aims to be as close to reality as it can get:
Pedia_Roid is a pediatric patient-type robot that can realistically simulate the jittery movements of a child who is reluctant to receive treatment, or a sudden change in medical condition. It was developed in response to the fact that there are few opportunities for clinical training for children in the field of medical education. It can reproduce in detail the expression of emotions such anxiety, fear and resistance, changes in facial color, pupils, and breathing sounds. In addition to dental treatment, the system can be used for training in various fields of pediatric medicine, including emergency care.
The startup claims Pedia Roid is the “world’s first humanoid for ER training.” It can also be used for dental training, hence the teeth.
More of this, I guess — If hyperrealistic robots are what it takes to inspire more patience, compassion, and creative problem-solving in the pediatric healthcare setting, then I’m all for it. Robots are finding increasing use in medical centers, something that’s only ramped up under the COVID-19 pandemic. They can be good and useful and, ideally, make healthcare workers’ lives easier.
But damn does this thing give me the heebie-jeebies.