Robotic Engineering — Are They Useful In Personal Care Sector?

Most people believe technology has its limitations when it comes to caring.

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Photo: Irish Examiner Newspaper with a robot named Stevie II developed by Trinity College, Dublin.

This Christmas, as always, about nine million UK adults will spend Christmas alone, and the figure keeps rising every year. This is a concern for the government that a Minister (Tracy Couch) was appointed in 2018, by the then Prime Minister, Theresa May to tackle the problem. It is estimated that such a disconnect community cost the NHS (National Health Service) £32 billion a year.

Loneliness & Social Isolation

Most adults suffer from EMOTIONAL loneliness, that is, where they miss the companionship of ONE person. This person can be a spouse, child, sibling or a best friend.

Social loneliness or ISOLATION is where we miss the network of groups of friends. Both emotional and social loneliness is bad for our health, as it creates a form of helplessness because people feel they have nothing to look forward to.

Four Reasons Loneliness And Social Isolation Are bad For You.

Research into how loneliness and social isolation affect people’s health give a staggering result as follows:

Loneliness and social isolation are as bad as smoking 15 sticks of cigarettes a day.

Lonely and socially isolated individuals are likely to suffer from depression, heart problems, dementia and obesity. All these, unfortunately, raise their higher risk of death by 29%.

Loneliness and social isolation are worse than obesity.

Robotic Engineering To The Rescue?

Most people are of the opinion that robots cannot replace that human touch, and so dismiss the idea of using them in solving loneliness and social isolation. They are of the opinion that,

If you want to make someone laugh, you have to be there.

I personally agree that there are loads of household tasks that robots can perform wonderfully, like making you an awesome cup of tea or coffee, but how far can their interaction go on the personal level? I will not undermine the role of touch, one to one chat and discussion, and making someone laugh to being there in solving loneliness and social isolation.

Meet Stevie II — A Socially Assisted Robot With Advanced AI Features

Stevie II is further development to Stevie I is developed by engineers at Trinity College, Dublin. He uses advanced sensing technology including laser rangefinders, in-depth cameras and vision sensors to interact with humans and its surrounding environment.

Stevie II has inbuilt voice recognition, so he recognises those he speaks to, understands and responds to their commands. Stevie II is also linked to the panic button in a resident’s apartment, and is able to call emergency services, should the need arises.

Five Practical Ways To Overcoming Loneliness & Social Isolation

You might not be able to have immediate access to Stevie II to help out, but there are simple practical ways to help yourself out of loneliness and social isolation.

Develop Your Interest — try to develop or realign your passion. We all have something we love to do and enjoy too. Look for and reach out to others with similar interest. Reaching out to others is easier now with social media and the internet. Keep yourself motivated. Behind all these, remember that people are hard work, and get ready to be disappointed.

Get A Pet — pets give fantastic companions and unconditional love. Having a dog, for instance, can make it easier to connect with local dog-walkers, develop friendship and relationship with vets and other dog lovers.

Wear A Smile — Go out in your best regularly to the local pub and eateries. Drop-in and chat with regulars and owners over a cup of coffee or dinner. Friendship soon develops. Ironically smiling at someone activates the brain to want to return the smile. This again releases dopamine and oxytocin that relieves emotional stress. Wearing a smile is never wrong.

Give It To God — Some of us can underestimate faith and spirituality in combating our loneliness and social isolation, but having a living faith makes a huge difference. Start your day in prayer or in silence. Silence enables you to listen to your inner voice, and we all have it. Have a positive outlook in life generally. Positivity makes a huge difference in whatever problem one is going through in life. Have faith in life, in people and in the universe to give you the best, and of course, you do deserve the best always.

Join a dating/Social Club — There are many clubs both social and dating that will meet your particular need. Before committing to any, do your own investigation. Be vigilant, and do not let desperado make you a victim of a scam. There are rules to meeting someone from the dating website for the first time. The rule is to meet in a public place, never in the privacy of either of your house. Apart from a dating website, there are others like:

Meetup.co.uk — Deals with various interest and topics, and you can always get one that interest you.

Nextdoor.co.uk — is a local community online group that showcase local interest and topics. Members interact freely with each other on topics of interest.

Inchair.co.uk — is about local choir and chorus group. If you have a passion for singing, the group can provide an avenue of joy and friendship to get you out of loneliness and social isolation.

An avid reader. A lover of Nature as Nature is the language of God. Trust your intuition. It is always right. Email: lanu_bennett@hotmail.com

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