Hanson Robotics, the Hong Kong team behind famed robot Sophia will release a new humanoid prototype, Grace, for the healthcare market.
Dressed in a blue nurse uniform, Grace is designed to interact with the elderly and isolated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The prototype has an Asian feature, collar-length brown hair, and a thermal camera in her chest to take people’s temperature and measure their responsiveness. She uses AI to diagnose a patient.
Grace can speak English, Mandarin, and Cantonese as well as do talk therapy, take bio readings, and help healthcare providers.
In a statement, CEO and founder of Hanson Robotics, David Hanson, stated:” Grace’s resemblance to a healthcare professional and capacity for social interaction is aimed at relieving the burden of front-line hospital staff overwhelmed during the pandemic”.
Hanson explained that human-like appearance facilitates trust and natural engagement because people are wired for human face-to-face interactions.
He added that Grace can simulate over 48 major facial muscles and has a comforting demeanor designed to look a little similar to anime characters, often a fusion of Asian and Western styles.
David Lake, chief executive of the joint venture between Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio, revealed that Awakening Health intends to mass-produce a beta version of Grace by August, adding there are also plans to fully deploy the prototype next year in locations including Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, and Korea.
Hanson added that the cost of making the robots is now equal to luxury car pricing and will decrease once the company is manufacturing tens or hundreds of thousands of units.
Kim Min-Sun, a communicology professor at the University of Hawaii, noted that Grace’s launch comes as the global impact of the coronavirus has made the need for humanoid robots urgent. Stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, many people have had their mental states affected by negative thoughts.