Singapore turns to robots to get seniors moving

Story highlights

  • Robots will help elderly Singaporeans stay fit
  • Aging societies increasingly turning to robots for help
  • Asian populations are among the world's oldest

(CNN)Elderly people in Singapore may soon be at the cutting edge of exercise, as a government program rolls out "RoboCoaches" to senior activity centers across the city state.

The robotic instructors lead fitness classes, demonstrate exercises, and offer encouragement.
"RoboCoach offers personalized exercise routines that are more enjoyable for the seniors," Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's minister for communications and information, said in a speech introducing the technology.
    "At the same time, it is able to ensure that seniors perform the exercise routines correctly so as to get maximum benefit from their workouts."

    Two screens offer smiles and instructions

    RoboCoach was deployed to its first senior activity center earlier this month, with plans for it to be in 25 venues by the end of the year.
    The robot was developed by the Electrical Engineering department of Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, and has "a rosy red face, blue eyes and two teeth, and mimics human movements," according to its creators.
    One screen on the robot's head acts as a smiling face, offering encouragement and support, while another on its chest displays detailed instructions on how to perform each activity.
    The technology is part of Singapore's Smart Nation scheme, which aims to harness technology to improve communication, efficiency and infrastructure in the city. One stated goal of the scheme is to "enable the elderly to lead more independent, fulfilling lives" through technology.