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News Asia Pacific

Demonstration of the new patient robot. (DTI/Photo Youtube)
Mar 25, 2010 | News Asia Pacific

Dentists in Japan go A.I. with patient robot

by Daniel Zimmermann, DTI

HONG KONG/LEIPZIG, Germany: Scientists from three universities in Tokyo, Japan, have unveiled today a human-like robot that is able to respond realistically to pain resulting from drills and other dental treatments. Developed to resemble the behaviour of real life patients, the robot will be used to train and evaluate the skills of dental students, the researchers told reporters in Tokyo.

The female-looking "Hanako" (engl. Flower child) can move its eyes, lids, jaw and tongue. In addition, the robot is able to release a saliva-like liquid and slowly slackens her jaw muscles to simulate the gradual "fatigue" of a real patient.

Koutaro Maki, vice director of the Showa University Dental Hospital, said at a press conference that the use of the humanoid meant a vast improvement from the traditional method to teach and train young dentists. "We still have a system where the 'apprentices' watch doctors with higher skills, borrow from them and copy them... This is not scientific," he said.

In Japan, robots in humanoid form are already in use in a variaty of fields such as elderly care or the sex industry. The Hanako dental patient robot is the first of its kind in the country.

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