Last week health bloggers were buzzing over the latest Japanese robot invention: a robotic pillow shaped like a polar bear that gently wakes you when you snore. Researchers claim the cuddly robot could also provide a solution to obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that can leave troubled sleepers unable to breathe.
The new robot is called Jukusui-kun (which translates to “deep sleep”) and is the brainchild of researchers from Wasaeda University in Tokyo. Akiyoski Kabe and his team demonstrated a prototype of the new pillow at the recent International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo.
“The uber-cute pillow has the looks of a polar bear and when your snoring gets too loud, it will gently tickle your face,” writes medical technology blogger Medgadget in response to a video on YouTube demonstrating the device.
Jukusui-Kun also comes equipped with built-in microphones to keep tabs on your snoring volume, in addition to measuring your blood oxygen level via a wearable hand sensor. When you’re having a hard time breathing, your blood oxygen level drops, and the bear will realize this and then tickle your face with its paw to signal a change in sleep position. However, when consumers can expect to see the Jukusui-Kun on retail shelves remains to be seen.
Japanese researchers have also recently developed a teddybear robot designed to comfort the country’s growing aging population by reading facial expressions and actions and responding to them. The Fujitsu device includes a camera in the nose of the bear that can detect human faces and actions, such as waving of hands, while sensors inside its head and limbs can detect human touches and caresses.
Another cuddly Japanese invention is the high-tech baby seal Paro, which coos and flaps its flippers to ease loneliness among the elderly and prevent depression and even dementia, according to its developers.