“Muscle suits” that help carers lift patients who cannot move, walking sticks that behaves like a guide dog, designed to help the visually impaired people, and robots that paint fingernails were among the main attractions at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo on Thursday.
The “muscle suit” gives extra help to nursing care workers who have to lift patients bound to bed. The device is worn on the back, like a backpack, and is powered by compressed air. It gives more muscle-power to the carer’s back and hips.
“It feels like you are using about half the power to lift people,” said caregiver Norikatsu Kimura, who took part in a trial at elderly care firm Asahi Sun Clean. “The assistance gives me relief as we are always worried about hurting our lower waist. I have seen many workers who were willing to continue this job but had to stop because of hip pain,” he said.
Another device displayed at the exhibition was the Lightbolt, a walking stick that helps the visually impaired users get to a specific destination. It also warns the users regarding the possible dangers along the way, such as holes or walls, and head-height obstacles like branches.
“Thanks to the sensors, this machine avoids any obstacle and allows visually-impaired users to move safely,” said Mayuko Mori from NSK. “There is a severe shortage of guide dogs and in any case, some people cannot keep animals in their apartments.”
Last but not least, the “Robo Nailist”, an industrial robot arm, was developed to paint women’s fingernails by using its amazing precision. After applying layers of nail varnish, the robot decorates the nails with miniscule crystal rhinestones in the very latest fashion.
“Many people imagine ‘industrial robots’ are doing welding work in big factories but we displayed this just to show how dexterous they are,” said company head Narito Hosomi.