Robot to help doctors work remotely

PHOTO: Robot to help doctors work remotely

A robot will soon help doctors at one hospital check on patients.

Called the Telepresence Puppet, it could let doctors interact with their patients without having to be physically present.

A doctor can guide the robot, which runs on wheels, to the patient and communicate with him through the machine.

The doctor can see and hear the patient using the robot's camera and microphone, and the patient can see and listen to the doctor through the robot's screen and speakers.

These and other uses of the robot will be tested out in a pilot run by home-grown start-up Ctrl Works at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital next month.

Mr Sim Kai, chief executive of Ctrl Works, said innovations like the robot have been developed here in recent years "as the ratio of doctors to the general population is getting smaller".

There are now 1.7 doctors for every 1,000 patients here, which is low compared to the ratios in Europe and North America, according to a Straits Times report published in November last year.

The Telepresence Puppet will be tested at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for one month. Different departments will try it out, and give feedback on its potential uses.

Though the robot's price was not disclosed, Ctrl Works said it will be affordable and comparable to the cost of other commercial information-technology and audio-visual equipment.

The Telepresence Puppet was one of several innovations showcased last Friday at the inaugural Demo Asia event organised by International Data Group and Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.

Demo Asia is the Asian leg of the Demo event that originated in the United States in 1991.

It gives regional technology start- up companies a platform to launch their products to a global audience and a channel to seek investment.

Demo Asia attracted 72 start-ups from 14 countries, and they presented their products here last Thursday and Friday.

Mr Robin Hu, chairman of Sphere Exhibits, said the event can help Singapore create more entrepreneurs.

Citing last year's Global Entrepreneuship and Development Index, Mr Hu noted that Singapore lags behind other countries in terms of venture-capital funding for start-ups.

Mr Matt Marshall, executive producer of Demo, said "Singapore lacks entrepreneurs".

He referred to a conversation with a Singaporean friend who told him that Singaporeans have it so good that they are scared to start new enterprises.

Mr Hu said: "This is where Demo Asia comes in nicely."

jprice@sph.com.sg


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