The robot is capable of sweating in high-temperature environments, which can be useful for the elderly. (Image Credit: University of Tsukuba)
I think we need sweaty robots. Older people are more prone to suffering from higher environmental temperatures, which can cause a number of serious health issues without warning. Now, researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan have developed a robot that alerts them by sweating when the temperature increases. Whenever we get too hot, our bodies produce sweat to regulate temperatures, which is also a feature being used by the robots to convey the impression to the user.
Compared to other environmental temperature indicators, including sound or body movement, a sweating robot has two unique benefits. They include a cross-cultural indication where humans sweat despite their region, gender, or culture. The other is an unobtrusive indication that uses peripheral gestures instead of conventional notifications to alert the user about unexpected occurrences through subtle changes. A robot using peripheral gestures is more effective because it indicates increasing temperatures more vividly.
In their prototype, the sweating system consists of two modules: pumping modules and gland modules. In the pumping modules, the peristaltic pump is used to draw out the sweat-mimic liquid with different viscosities from the two tanks, which are fixed inside the robot. Afterward, they are mixed and contained within a tube fitted in a pump casing. Then the sweat is transferred through the compression inside a roller station and thus, creates a pulse. This allowed the robot to simulate the sweating process and change viscosity. In the gland modules, the second phase of sweating is simulated. It contains 4mm-diameter tubes that transport the sweat from the pumping modules to the glands. From there, the eight micro solenoid valves that are placed near the robot’s surface will handle the sweat secretion, which will then control the sweating location.
In the future, the team plans on carrying out experiments, and afterward, they will upgrade the prototype by adding visual and olfactory effects. They will carry another experiment to identify the benefits of sweating robot indications while comparing it with traditional indication like a thermometer and a verbal alarm. Additionally, the team could add some social aspects to the robot. For example, it could perceive human emotions like nervousness or embarrassment from their sweat and facial expressions. However, it’s not exactly clear if humans could associate the emotional states of a robot with its sweating. In the future, they will also explore sweat as one type of notification of emotion.
Have a story tip? Message me at: cabe(at)element14(dot)com