TEDMED 2009 just passed and with it came some news about the future of robotics and healthcare. iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT), the company that brought you the Roomba, is set to enter the healthcare business. As discussed in a press release, Colin Angle (iRobot CEO) announced the creation of a robot (or robots) that will help care for the elderly and ill. The details of the robot haven’t been widely announced, and speculation is still running amok. Will the robot be a medication dispenser, an assistant for household chores, or a floating balloon that helps you lift hard to reach objects?
Tod Loofburrow has been hired to head iRobot’s new Healthcare Business Unit. According to press, that division of the company aims to “add a million years of independent living to its customers.” That goal would seem to sync well with Angle’s TEDMED talk which was titled “Will A Robot Care for My Mom?” All would seem to point to robots that help patients with difficult or important tasks in place of more costly human assistants. So, while we could have seen iRobot try to mimic some of the recently discussed healthcare bots from Panasonic, BotJunkie reported that the robot demonstrated at TEDMED was an airborne vacuum that could help you pick up objects or hold them in place. Until iRobot or TEDMED releases the video of Angle’s presentation, we’ll just have to wait and see. Needless to say, as soon as we know something, you will too.