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The 38th H.C.R.

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[Video] Two video reports are now available!

A week has passed by since the Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition has ended. Two video reports packed full of information are now available. The video reports communicate the energy in the Panasonic booth, which was crowded with many visitors. You will be able to see products I introduced in my entries, as well as those I wasn't able to introduce. The video reports contain interviews of developers and visitors, so you can get a feel for what the front lines of welfare equipment is like.

H.C.R. 2011The 38th H.C.R. 2011 Vol.1 Panasonic's People-friendly Manufacturing

This video provides a highlight of the various ideas showcased in the Panasonic booth. You will see what the stage presentation on Panasonic's manufacturing activities was like as well as get a glimpse of the digital mirror and some familiar faces such as wheelchairs, electric care assistance beds, and portable toilets.
H.C.R. 2011The 38th H.C.R. 2011 Vol.2 Panasonic's Robot System Solutions

Panasonic's state-of-the-art robotic technology is taking steps towards practical implementation. This video depicts a clear picture of such technology. You can get a better idea of how the Hair-washing Robot's arms and digits move up close, which is hard to fully communicate with just photographs.

An expansive unit bath environment, "Aqua Heart F Series," gives easy access to even stretchers

"Aqua Heart" is a barrier-free bath unit for elderly facilities available in the marketplace. Many "Aqua Heart" series have been introduced to date, and I have also covered them in my entries for the Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in the past, but I have never seen one as big as the one this year (3m x 4m). The expansive unit bath environment is equipped with showers and lighting, so all it needs is a large bathtub designed for care facilities.

In Japanese homes, unit baths have become quite commonplace, but this is also true for facilities. In comparison to traditional construction methods, these prefabricated bath units can be built in a shorter amount of time with a uniform quality, and cleaning and maintenance is also very easy. Even if there is a demand for tiled bathrooms, due to the lack of workmen, builders are finding it hard to meet such demand recently. And people working at facilities have asked for "bathrooms that will allow staff to enter the bathroom with a stretcher, and to use mechanical bathing facilities." These are some of the factors that led to the creation of this large-size bathroom.

H.C.R. 2011Can you get a feel for just how large this is? The pink bathtub at the back is a mockup created for the exhibition, but in reality, a mechanical bathtub may be placed there. There are a total of 6 drains in the floor enough to drain a lot of water. The Aqua Heart F series has received favorable feedback from the staff in the facilities, especially because "the floor is not cold," and "it dries fast."
H.C.R. 2011The 3-paneled sliding doors open up to a width of 1200mm, which is wider than normal homes. In the picture you can see someone approaching with a wheelchair, but it is wide enough for a stretcher.

A portable toilet that blends into the room decor is now available!

I thought it was strange that there is a wicker chair in the excretion care equipment corner, but this is actually the new "portable toilet, 'Zaraku,' rattan chair," which was just introduced to the market on October 1. I am sure people who have families they are taking care of at home have wished for a portable toilet that doesn't stand out so much. It is great that now you have a greater design choice.

H.C.R. 2011The chair on the left is one with the toilet tank detached. According to the staff, there are many visitors who don't realize that these chairs are portable toilets. Because rattan composites are used for the chairs, in comparison to wicker or other wood materials, they dry much faster and offer greater ventilation, and you can even wash the chairs. These rattan chairs are home made in Southeast Asia. Each chair takes a craftsperson 20 hours to make.

There are endless crowds of visitors who touch and sit on the "portable toilet, 'Zaraku,' Awane." This portable toilet, which was introduced to the market this April, comes in 2 shades, light green and beige. The green matches the color of tatami mats and the beige is more suitable for a western decor.

H.C.R. 2011Another feature of the Awane is its compactness. In comparison to the traditional model on the left, the square side of the new model is 13cm less. At the same time, the armrests have been redesigned so it feels roomier when you sit down. I sat down on both models to compare, and I thought for a person my size, Awane was a good fit. And as you can see in the photograph, if you swing the toilet left to right 90 degrees, the height of the seat changes 1cm with each swing, so you can easily adjust the height.

The digital mirror (prototype) makes measuring rehabilitation progress easier!

I introduced the digital mirror last year, but it has become even more practical in many ways. One of the key upgrades is that you can now measure the progress patients make rehabilitating. You can measure the performance in 6 areas such as standing on one leg, functional reach, Timed Up & Go. They are all popular physical tests. At hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, a log for each patient must be created and updated with information about their rehabilitation menu and progress, which is often quite a lot of work for busy staff, but when you work out in front of the digital mirror it will keep track of the time spent and the range of motion, and also store photographs and other data. The data can also be stored as graphs. The digital mirror helps the entire sequence of the rehabilitation process - training, measuring progress, and storing such data - so it has received great feedback from hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

H.C.R. 2011The digital mirror corner is on the left side of the stage where the presentation about Panasonic's manufacturing activities is taking place. The digital mirror is fun to train with, so there is an endless crowd of visitors in this corner.
H.C.R. 2011I had a go at measuring my functional reach. You hold the red ball in your hand and without moving your feet you push the ball as far away from you as you can. The digital mirror will measure the distance and take a photograph. By measuring the distance regularly, patients will be able to see what progress they have made, so it may even help motivate them.
H.C.R. 2011You can copy the data of your rehabilitation sessions onto a flash drive from the USB port found on the lower left side of the mirror, and print it out like you see in the photograph. The data containing photos and graphs seems like it would be a detailed and accurate way of keeping track of a patient's progress.

Application of the RoboticBed(R) technology! Electric care assistance bed with an integrated wheelchair (prototype)

On the other side of the stage introducing Panasonic's manufacturing activities, you will find the electric care assistance bed (with an integrated wheelchair) exhibited last year on showcase. As was the case with the RoboticBed(R), the front half of the bed transforms into a wheelchair, so you don't have to move people off the bed. The RoboticBed(R) is completely electromotive, so it allows people who are usually on the receiving end of care to act independently, but this electric care assistance bed (with an integrated wheelchair) requires the help of the care taker to separate/join the wheelchair from/to the bed.

I was amazed by its innovative idea and how easy to use it was last year, but more improvements have been made to it based on the feedback received from the care takers who work in care homes operated by Panasonic's subsidiary company. In terms of safety, in addition to the handbrake, it now comes with a footbrake. And now it also has side rails on both sides of the wheelchair. The side rails are quite impressive because they can be used as armrests when the bed is turned into a wheelchair. Panasonic had received feedback that side rails were inconvenient because there is no place to put them once the bed became a wheelchair, but it solved this problem by making it possible for the side rails to be used as armrests of the wheelchair.

H.C.R. 2011A visitor was testing out the bed/wheelchair. When the care recipient is lying down, the bed functions as a normal electric care assistance bed. Like the RoboticBed(R), the mattress is divided in two, but it doesn't seem like this is bothering the visitor.
H.C.R. 2011The side rails on the right side of the bed can be detached and reattached to both sides of the integrated wheelchair. A crowd began to form when this was happening. I heard people saying, "An electric care assistance bed with an integrated wheelchair? What is it?"
H.C.R. 2011When the care taker lightly pulled on the handle, the bed moved sideways. At this point I heard oohs and aahs from the crowd. Some people stopped and said, "Look at that! The bed is sliding!"
H.C.R. 2011In no time the bed transformed into a wheelchair. Visitors who watched the whole event left saying, "It would be great if this bed became widely available."

It seems to me that the bed is nearly complete, but I was told that there are still some more hurdles it has to overcome. I hope that these beds will become available to people who are having a hard time at home helping care recipients move from the bed to the wheelchair very soon.


The Hair-Washing Robot will wash your hair every day without you having to get someone to help you (prototype)

The Hair-Washing Robot created quite a sensation at last year's Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition. Now it has gotten even better and appeared on stage to demonstrate its upgrades.

H.C.R. 2011The major improvement is that in addition to the 2 arms on the left and right, the robot now has a third arm for washing the back of the head, and so the number of digits that massage the scalp and wash hair has increased from a total of 16 to 24. Now, the arms can also expand and contract, and they can move in a wide range of patterns. Panasonic had received feedback from people that they wished the robot could wash the back of their head more. So after much trial and error, now the arms on the left and right can hold up a person's head while the third arm washes the back of the head.
H.C.R. 2011Compared to last year, the arms seem to massage and wash the scalp in many more different variations. It is a shame because photographs can't really fully express the range of movement.
hH.C.R. 2011Some other new functions include application of conditioner and dryer. You can also program the places you like to get washed. After the robot shampoos your head, it will ask, "Which parts do you like to get washed?" All you have to do is select the spots and time you would like the robot to spend washing. It really does seem like the shampooing experience the robot offers is becoming increasingly similar to the experience you get at a hair salon. I am sure many people who are asked if there are any parts of their head that itch at a hair salon answer no out of reserve, but with a robot you don't have to be shy.

After being introduced at last year's H.C.R., the Hair-Washing Robot was the center of attention among the media. Many said they had never seen a robot like this before. Perhaps some of you who watched the news may have thought, "Wouldn't it be better, nicer, if people washed other people's hair?" But washing someone's hair takes a lot of time, so nurses and care workers who are often very busy can't get around to it sometimes. That is why although their heads might be feeling grimy, people often have to wait a while. But this robot might help change things. "We like to find areas where we can be of help, and create something that doesn't exist yet." These inspiring words from the person in charge of the robot's development at Panasonic left quite an impression.


Even more user friendly! "RoboticBed(R)" with new and improved functions (prototype)

RoboticBed(R) is a hybrid electric care assistance bed-wheelchair brought to life by robotic technology. The conceptual model introduced 2 years ago at the Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition offered amazing comfort and smooth operation. It was quite a luxurious model with a mattress divided into 10 sections, but the RoboticBed(R) exhibited this year has a mattress that has been divided into 2 sections. This has made it possible to share mattresses, sheets, and parts with electric care assistance beds equipped with wheelchair functions, so you can change sheets and procure parts even faster. The size is the same as ordinary care assistance beds, so it has even become more practical.

The best feature about the RoboticBed(R) is that people who receive care can decide and independently transform the bed into an electric wheelchair and move about the room freely. This robot is truly a dream come true because moving from the bed to the wheelchair was a great burden for both people receiving care and giving care.

H.C.R. 2011At a glance, the RoboticBed(R) looks like a normal electric care assistance bed (but the joystick in front is new).
H.C.R. 2011The RoboticBed(R) displayed this year has a new function, the electric tilt function. You can use the joystick to tilt the back and leg portion of the front half of the bed as you see in the photograph. And in this comfortable position the front half of the bed, which has turned into a wheelchair separates from the rest of the bed. If you let go of the joystick, the movement stops, so even people who aren't used to operating it can feel safe and confident.
H.C.R. 2011When the wheelchair starts to move, the tilt position gradually shifts to the normal seated position. The wheelchair can move forward, backwards, left and right as well as diagonally, so now it can move in all directions. The wheelchair can also spin in place, so it is convenient even in limited spaces. The woman seated in the chair doing the demonstration conducted all these movements with just the joystick.

Stage presentation introducing Panasonic's manufacturing activities and its commitment to robotic technology for healthcare and welfare

On October 5, the 38th Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.) has begun. It has been raining lightly since morning here in Tokyo, and it is a bit chilly, but as usual, the exhibition welcomed waves of visitors as the doors opened at 10:00, and the Panasonic booth is already quite crowded.

H.C.R. 2011This is what this year's Panasonic booth looks like. The earth tone walls are made up of green materials, and the booth is lit by LED lights. I say this of the Panasonic booth every year, but the booth itself is very eco-conscious.

On the stage, the Hair-Washing Robot, the communication assistance robot, "HOSPI-Rimo," and the RoboticBed(R) were on exhibit, and many people stopped in their tracks to take a closer look.

H.C.R. 2011The demonstration of the Hair-Washing Robot involves an actual live demonstration and images shown on the display. You can see that the dummy's hair is first soaked with hot water and lathered shampoo, and then finger like protrusions on the arms on the left and right move in complex motion. We had assumed that "people's hair should be washed by people's hands," but watching the robot go through the motions very smoothly made me realize that "you can entrust it to the robot" as well.
H.C.R. 2011A conceptual model of the RoboticBed(R) was introduced in 2009, but it has taken another step closer to practical application. Although the basic concept is the same - "people who need care can independently move around without getting help moving into the wheelchair since the bed transforms itself into the wheelchair" - it has now become the same size as the electric care assistance bed, so you really feel that "you can have one at home."
H.C.R. 2011The cute robot you see on the left is the communication assistance robot, "HOSPI-Rimo." The face of the robot becomes the monitor, and people who are far away from each other can talk to one another while looking at each other's faces. The robot can maneuver independently, while steering clear of obstacles. It was moving very agilely on stage. Panasonic has been testing out its robot, "HOSPI" in hospitals to deliver medication and specimens, but the "HOSPI-Rimo" has integrated these technologies to assist communication. It is amazing that you can use robots to help communication between patients and the very busy hospital and healthcare staff.

The demonstration, which lets you actually see the robots at work, takes place on this stage every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. I will be writing about the RoboticBed(R) and the Hair-Washing Robots in separate entries, so stay tuned.


The 38th Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.) will begin on October 5!

The 38th Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.)

We experienced a very hot summer here in Japan, but the summer heat has finally dissipated, so much so that it almost feels a bit chilly. This is mako, one of the writers of the Cyber Showcase Blog. I will be covering the Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.) again this year.

The 38th Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition will be held for 3 days from October 5 (Wed) to 7 (Fri) in the East Hall of the Tokyo Big Sight. This year, 510 companies and organizations from 14 countries and regions will be taking part, and more visitors than even last year, approximately 120,000 visitors are expected, so I am sure we will see once again endless waves of people and a very exciting exhibition. H.C.R. has become a fairly well recognized exhibition here in Japan, and it is the third largest welfare exhibition in the world after Medtrade held in the U.S. and REHACARE held in Germany. At H.C.R. you get to see the world's state-of-the-art welfare equipment, so I feel very fortunate for being able to go every year.

Just in time for the H.C.R., Panasonic issued a press release about the development of the Hair-Washing Robot, "RoboticBed(R)," and the communication assistance robot, "HOSPI-Rimo." I have introduced the Hair-Washing Robot and the "RoboticBed(R)" previously, but new improvements have been made to them this year, and they have taken another step towards commercial viability. And I will be seeing the communication assistance robot, "HOSPI-Rimo," for the first time at the H.C.R., so I am looking very much forward to it. I will be reporting about the must-sees of the Panasonic booth at H.C.R. so stay tuned!

The 38th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R. 2011)
Period: October 5 (Wed) - October 7 (Fri), 2011
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo, Japan)
Organizers: Health and Welfare Information Association, Japan National Council of Social Welfare
Official site: