SingularityNET’s relationship with Hong Kong robotics firm Hanson Robotics goes way back — true SNET old-timers will remember that the public launch of the SingularityNET project occurred at the D10E event in San Jose’ in summer 2017 and featured a high-energy presentation by Ben Goertzel, Simone’ Giacomelli, David Hanson and the star of the show, Sophia.
Hanson Robotics and SingularityNET have long shared a common vision of humanity and technology advancing toward a beneficial Singularity together, via progress toward compassionate artificial general intelligence driven by the rollout of compelling and valuable products across multiple vertical markets.
Ongoing progress on the integration of SingularityNET platform, OpenCog and deep neural net AI tools and the Hanson robots were showcased at the 2019 Web Summit when David Hanson and Ben Goertzel presented together with Sophia and the robot Philip K Dick (and see also the followup work with the PKDeepfake avatar, a digital emulation of the PKD robot).
Today we are proud and excited to announce the initiation of the next phase of the Hanson/SingularityNET collaboration — the launch of Awakening Health, a joint venture between Hanson Robotics and SingularityNET’s commercial spinoff Singularity Studio, along with other partners from the medical and business spheres.
Awakening Health’s flagship product will be a new robot named Grace — the world’s first human-like robotic assistant for elderly care and biodata management. Grace builds on the Hanson Robotics Sophia 2020 humanoid robotics platform and leverages unique neural-symbolic AI contributed by Singularity Studio, building on the SingularityNET decentralized AI platform.
Continuing a series of previous healthcare successes with Hanson robots (autism treatment, eldercare research and safety testing at the US Centers for Disease Control CDC) and SingularityNET AI (disease analytics and therapeutic dialogue), Grace embodies the best of these leading-edge technologies within a new product that may be thought of as one of Sophia’s younger sisters.
Grace is based on the same basic hardware as Sophia (the Sophia 2020 platform), but will feature a different face — still being perfected in the Hanson Robotics art lab — expressing her unique personality, as well as some additional sensor and actuator capabilities customized for her medical role. While incorporating some of the same elements as Sophia’s software, Grace will also feature a novel AI system appropriate for the healthcare domain and leveraging Singularity Studio’s proprietary biomedical analytics technology along with the OpenCog AGI framework and the SingularityNET decentralized AI platform.
By combining character robotics with animated personality, Grace will engage patients naturally and emotionally — providing a variety of benefits including cognitive stimulation, intuitive communication, and secure gathering and management of patient data for use in advanced machine learning and next-gen medicine, all while facilitating social distancing for COVID-19 safety.
Awakening Health is currently testing early alpha prototypes of Grace, in parallel with doing the hardware and software engineering toward the production version of the robot, with a goal of scaling up commercial deployment in 2021.
Given the critical role public health is playing in the world in this pandemic era, and the particularly acute medical issues that have been occurring in eldercare facilities recently due to the nature of COVID-19, the time could not be riper for the launch of Awakening’s technology. Hospitals and eldercare facilities are overwhelmed and understaffed, and while there is a desire to minimize human contact with elderly patients to avoid infection risk, there is also an obvious human cost that comes along with this.
Robots cannot substitute fully for human contact, but they can help handle some of the needs that are currently being left unfulfilled in many eldercare contexts due to safety and staffing shortage issues. The Grace robot will carry out conversational and nonverbal interactions, including assessing patient state, providing information about medical therapies and everyday routines, answering questions, helping with scheduling classes and appointments, making calls to friends and family members, giving guidance in playing games and using apps, and providing basic social and emotional support.
Given the acute need for Grace robot technology in so many healthcare facilities, the process of securing partners and customers for the project has already begun, including a number of conversations underway with Hong Kong and China eldercare institutions, and a partnership between Singularity Studio, Awakening Health and US eldercare technology firm Connected Living.
Connected Living brings relationships with hundreds of senior living communities and medical facilities in the US and worldwide. The firm’s enterprise content management system creates operational efficiencies, manages communication and information enhances person-centred wellness through an integrated ecosystem that includes mobile, voice and robotics. Avenues for integrating Connected Living’s software suite with the Grace robot and her underlying AI software are being actively explored, along with potentials for collaboration on investigative clinical trial programs aimed at demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of interaction with Grace.
The SingularityNET platform is a key ingredient of the technology ecosystem on the back end of the Grace robots, providing a framework for secure biomedical data management and scalable distributed deployment of neural-symbolic AI services to the robots as they go about their business. Each Grace robot will run the Hanson AI software on-board, along with certain AI modules specially designed by Singularity Studio — and will then obtain broader AI capabilities via making API calls into AI agents running on the SingularityNET decentralized AI network.
Awakening Health is also exploring the potential of creating a broader line of medical robotic and avatar products complementing the flagship Grace robot, all delivering animated personality, therapeutic interactions and decentralized neural-symbolic AI to the eldercare and healthcare market.
The Awakening quest is still near its beginning, and there is a great deal more to be learned as the Grace robots move toward scalable manufacture and broad practical rollout — but we at SingularityNET are excited to be a core part of the team leading this journey, and to be working closely with our friends at Hanson Robotics on such an amazing endeavour.
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