iRobot CEO, Colin Angle, with AVA.

We found this video from CNNMoney, about AVA, iRobot’s latest personal assistance robot. We’ve covered AVA before, how it’s basically an iPad (or notebook) on a pretty sophisticated set of wheels. We don't learn anything new about the robot, but watching AVA we begin to get a feel for how AVA might work in the home, particularly, as iRobot CEO Colin Angle points out, to assist the elderly. With laser range finders, acoustic sensors, accelerometers, bumpers, and two cameras for 3D vision, iRobot’s built AVA to have the tools to get around the home and be of service.

What service will AVA provide exactly? Mainly telepresence communication between the elderly and healthcare providers. Angle’s main point is that the elderly don’t want to live in assisted living homes, and their relatives don’t want to pay the cost of assisted living homes. By having doctors, nurses, or other health personnel available at the tap of a touchscreen, AVA can mediate exchange of immediate health information between patients and their doctors. AVA would be perfect for the elderly who require minimal care but regular monitoring.

And healthcare aside, AVA’s perfect for curing another major ailment of the elderly: loneliness. With AVA, friends and family members can “drop in” from time to time. Watching the robot scoot around, it’s actually got some personality, the way it’s head swings around and tilts to look at you – even thought it’s head is an iPad. Imagine a grandson’s face rolling into the living room, “Hi grandma!” I think she’ll take that over a telephone call any day.

[image credits: CNNMoney via YouTube]

video: AVA

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.