Telepresence robots have long been heralded as the world's first wave of robot avatars. And to a certain extent they already are. Back in January, iRobot and InTouch Health's RP-Vita gained FDA approval — an important landmark in the telepresence world — and at last, hospitals have begun letting the 'bots roam their halls.
Seven hospitals in North America — from Columbus, OH and Newport Beach, CA to Toluca, Mexico — have begun to utilize the robot avatars. Medical professionals with patients in these hospitals will be able to control the RP-Vita using iPads and monitor patients using two-way cameras. With them, doctors will be able to zoom in to perform precise examinations, diagnosing anything from melanoma to dilated pupils.
They'll also have access to a whole host of data — from patient histories to case studies — which are accessed through the avatar itself. So if you haven't been to the doctor in a while, don't be surprised when they arrive for your checkup on wheels rather than in scrubs.