It seems a natural fit that the men and women who have made the decision to serve their country and community might transition into a civilian career in healthcare. In fact, many Rockcastle employees are veterans. Their skills and experience provide a unique perspective that helps the facility succeed in its mission to provide top quality respiratory care. But what is less obvious is that this can also apply to military technology. “Temi,” a robot built using declassified military technology, was donated to Rockcastle Regional by its developers, the RoboTemi Corporation.
But instead of collecting intelligence or diffusing bombs, Temi has begun his new career: helping respiratory care residents smile. “I love that Temi can play music,” said Brian Knoops, a respiratory care center resident. “And since he can follow me, he makes a great mobile DJ.”
In addition to his musical skills, Temi can follow basic commands like “go to the nurse’s station,” or answer questions like “what will the weather be like?” He can follow a resident through hallways and navigate potential obstacles without outside assistance. He has a small shelf that can be used to ferry small items like drinks back and forth between resident areas. He can make phone calls, take pictures, and set up video calls using an app like Apple’s “FaceTime.”
Even though Temi leverages military technology, company founder Yossi Wolff had adaptive technology in mind when he conceived of the product.
“I once spent an afternoon with my grandmother and noticed how shaky her hands were and how difficult it was for her to hold a cup of tea,” Wolff said. “I then watched her try to operate her smartphone – she had trouble with that, too. At that moment, I decided to devote my life to creating Temi for her. When I realized all the cool things a personal robot can do, I knew I wanted one for myself. I believe that while smartphones keep us connected at any time, Temi the personal robot keeps us present anywhere.”
Temi’s telepresence capabilities are particularly impactful in an inpatient setting. The respiratory care center helps residents from all over the United States. Many of these patients are homesick. Rockcastle Regional staff hope that Temi’s video conferencing can help residents maintain important connections with their families.
“Lots of our preemie babies learn to walk here,” said Emily Valentine, Rockcastle’s director of inpatient rehab. “If a child’s mother could see her child take their first steps, that would be amazing.”
So even though a robot veteran like Temi has not made the same sacrifices as his human counterparts, he still makes a difference in his own way.