A mental health robot named Robin is now making the rounds at a Riverside nursing home.
Robin visits with patients at Riverwalk Post-Acute. Many are recovering from accidents or surgery, providing mental health services and a smile.
“It will literally just start roaming the hallways and finding people and playing games with them, music, karaoke, all kinds of different activities and just carry on a conversation with them,” said Andrew Stephenson, administrator at Riverwalk Post-Acute.
Robin runs on a combination of artificial intelligence software and human assistance.
“It really cognitively stimulates patients residents to really feel happy and joy and comfortable again, it can even explain medical procedures if we need to,” explained Peter Attalla with Glendale-based Expper Technologies, the company that makes it.
They chose to give Robin the personality of a 7-year-old so it’s approachable.
While the robot can do many things on its own, there’s always a trained mental health professional on the back end, ready to assist.
After interacting with Robin for a bit, I found it tough to tell if I was interacting with a human behind the scenes or the software – which is precisely the point.
“Honestly, the biggest surprise we’ve seen is that after a minute of interacting with Robin people feel they’re interacting with another person,” said Attala.
It’s a robot that makes you feel better… in situations where companionship is key
“It’s definitely absolutely not intended to replace the human touch, we’re a care business… we’re all about providing care to the people what come in here… and that can’t be replaced by a robot necessarily,” said Stephenson.
Robin is currently being used at various children’s hospitals and geriatric facilities. Time named it one of the best inventions of 2021.