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Robots in Japan counteract a growing childcare shortage

Japan has one of the largest ageing populations in the world, where many young citizens are delaying parenthood and working long hours in order to pay high rental prices. Transforming the country’s economy, childcare has become a somewhat lucrative resource as a result of national shortages, with long waiting lists which are still rising.

Demand is outstripping supply in the region, leading Japan to look at how technology can support nursery workers and enable both parents to return to work.

Growing start-up company Global Bridge Holdings has developed a solution to support nurseries with the development of a new robot, embedding key sensors to monitor body temperature through the use of a thermograph, a child’s heart rate and sleep patterns of all the children who attend the nursery. Additionally, the robots house facial recognition technology in order to identify each child.

Named Vevo, it is built to encompass a bear face and human body and has been likened to a ‘care bear’. Currently under trial, if successful the technology will be placed within a second nursey and be sold by next year.

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Yuji Takashima, a spokesperson for Social Solutions, the Global Bridge Holdings subsidiary behind the childcare robotics project, informed The Telegraph: “We believe that by supporting childcare education with this robot, we can contribute to resolving the shortage of nursery teacher and improving the quality of education.”

However, creating robots to support the healthcare sector in Japan is nothing new. The country’s Robear, similarly to Vevo, was built two years ago to support the region’s ageing population and growing demand for healthcare services.

Built to be more hard-wearing, the robot can lift patients out of bed and place them in wheelchairs through the use of inbuilt sensors to support patients further in case they slip or are uncomfortable.

Consequently, the technology will slightly alleviate the strain on care services and provide patients with the independence that they need.

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