Robotic Dental Patients

Engineers have perfected a robotic female patient, her name is Showa Hanako 2, which allows dentists to practice new procedures on non-living subjects. The robot is designed to help figure out the amount of discomfort that the patient may have, having the ability to both gag and swallow. It even has the ability to flinch at perceived pain. Japan’s Showa University is so comfortable with their life like training robot that they feel she is ready to work with actual dentists.

It actually does more then flinch- it blinks on its own, and is capable of sneezing. There is an actual list of other human like habits it can display, but most of them are a little inane to write about (for example displaying signs of wanting to close its mouth from jaw pain). It actually even response to voice recognition technology to help react to the doctor, and can even carry out very simple conversations using Raytron. This started being developed about 10 years ago, this is the first version that has realistic skin and movement. Showa Hanako 2 has several major improvements over the previous model. The skin has been changed from PVC to silicone, and the tongue and cheek linings have been formed in one piece. And the head, which previously moved only pneumatically, now has a motor.

“We considered the motions of the tongue and mouth lining separately. To prevent water getting into the machinery and causing problems, we wanted to form those parts in one piece if possible. But the molding technology for doing that wasn’t available to us. Orient Industry had that technology, and it helped us a lot.” continueing on… “If you don’t try to make a robot’s face look realistic, it doesn’t have the same effect [on] users psychologically,” Koutaru Maki, a professor at Showa University’s School of Dentistry, told DigInfo TV. “It makes quite a difference if patients can train while experiencing the same kind of tension they’d feel about a human patient, thinking, for example, ‘I’m really going to make this treatment work’ or ‘Even the smallest mistake would be unforgivable.’”