Jun 30 2009

They’ll need SOMEONE to take care of them

Category: society,technologyharmonicminer @ 9:05 am

Japan is dying by inches. It is simply not reproducing itself into the next generation. And, because it is one of the most closed societies on Earth to immigration, it is going to have a very hard time getting anyone to take care of its aging population.  For that reason, robotics research of all kinds is hugely funded — they hope that robots will be cooking, cleaning, even providing basic medical care — as well as research into ways to increase the mobility of the elderly.

Toyota Motor Corp. says it has developed a way of steering a wheelchair by just detecting brain waves, without the person having to move a muscle or shout a command.

Toyota’s system, developed in a collaboration with researchers in Japan, is among the fastest in the world in analyzing brain waves, it said in a release Monday.

Past systems required several seconds to read brain waves, but the new technology requires only 125 milliseconds _ or 125 thousandths of a second.

The person in the wheelchair wears a cap that can read brain signals, which are relayed to a brain scan electroencephalograph, or EEG, on the electrically powered wheelchair, and then analyzed in a computer program.

Research into mobility is part of Toyota’s larger strategy to go beyond automobiles in helping people get around in new ways.

We all stand to benefit from Japan’s probably hopeless attempt to plan for its, uh, permanent retirement.  Rather than taking the European approach of allowing high levels of immigration to provide the workforce that isn’t being born natively, Japan is going to bequeath some amazing new technologies, which are likely to have applications far beyond replacing the missing younger generation in eldercare.

If Europe was spending its money this way, we might have seen a “robotics and remote control” race between Europe and Japan.  Sadly, Europe is so mired in its ways that it is dying another way, and, in the dying, is bequeathing nothing but huge problems to the world.

Does anyone think a US car company has been doing basic research of this nature?  Nah…  too busy trying to figure out how to meet ridiculous CAFE standards for fuel economy, while paying cushy retirement packages to retirees with probable life spans of 30+ years after retirement.  The only robots in the US auto industry (outside the factories that used to be busy making cars) are the ones marching to the tune of the federal bureaucrats who have taken over.