Tokyo University Adapts “Love Doll” Robot for Dental Training
Robot gives dental students a more realistic practical experience.
By Ellen Cotton, Editor, RoboNexus - Filed Jul 05, 2011

Just as the recent code release of Microsoft Kinect software gave robotics developers a shortcut to creating autonomous robotics applications, Tokyo's Showa University has taken a shortcut to creating a dental-training robot with realistic features and reflexes, by adapting a so-called "love doll" robot.

Dental training robots are not new. King's College in London designed hapTEL– a virtual reality training chair that uses haptics to give students feedback so they can better ascertain how much pressure to exert when working on a patient. The problem with the hapTEL robot is that students are not able to experience empathy as they would on a human patient, because the UK device does not look realistic (as it is simply a mouth). Plus, the students do not get verbal feedback as they would from a human patient.

Enter Showa Hanoko 2. Tokyo's Showa University has partnered with Japanese Robot maker Tmsuk and "Love doll" maker Orient Industry to create an updated dental-training robot with realistic silicone skin, tongue, and mouth. The Hanako 2 also has the ability to move her tongue, blink, cough, sneeze, choke, roll her eyes, shake her head and say "ouch, it hurts." The robot is also capable of simulating a gag reflex, a common reaction during a dental procedure.

Showa Hanako 2 will be ready for sale to Japanese dental groups later this year by Yoshida Dental Manufacturing. The price has not yet been disclosed.

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