Scholarship Submission the Second! Answered
For my next submission for the scholarship Create, I decided to design a robot that would not help what you do in your daily life, but how.
Stress can build up without you yourself knowing. Perhaps you're prone to panic or anxiety attacks and can't recognize them; the first step in dealing with such. So, I would develop a robot that could cater to easing your stressed or panicked condition by detecting the symptoms and then using any number of methods to return to you a normal state.
For in-home use, the human would wear a combination heart rate/respiration/oximeter monitor (coupled with a BP cuff perhaps) that would send wireless data to a nearby computer or the robot itself. At such time a stressed condition arises, the programming can recognize what course of action is needed and address it.
For instance, a raised heart rate and shortened breath with low oxygen absorption could indicate a panic attack. The robot would then stop what it was doing (vacuuming, chastising cats, etc) and find the human. The robot would then playback an audio message of "Are you feeling OK?" or a soothing musical piece or project a slideshow of recognizable images. The robot could return from time to time after an stress event to check on the progress of the human. If the human doesn't return to wellness, a more advanced robot would suggest any number of relief alternatives ("Should you take your medication?") or possibly notify another human of the situation.
Of course, this is no substitute for having a companion or caregiver nearby to assist in these situations. I originally had the idea for people that live and work alone, or happen to find themselves without human contact during times of stress. My fiancee then suggested that I expand the scope to more needy people like the elderly that can't or won't always speak for themselves about how they feel. That version may require more resources than I am privy to unfortunately. If I get a chance to work with a Create, I would try to pack in as many features as possible.
I would like the robot to have a some kind of visual representation of a face like an LCD and an interface so the human can interact with the robot. Voice recognition would be nice but a simple red and green button may have to do for now. The human would have to wear, in addition to the monitor, an IR emitter of some kind so the robot can find said human. It could be done cheaply with something like a promotional LED light worn on a lightweight anklet or even attached to a shoe.
As a footnote, I'd like to say that anytime I'm tense, there's nothing quite like an episode of "Ask This Old House" to calm me down. Hmmm....