Chinese researchers unveiled what is reportedly the nation’s first robot capable of diagnosing depression at the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions that ended in northern China’s coastal city Tianjin yesterday.
Also known as World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos,” the conference showcased a number of most-up-to-date tech innovations from local universities.
According to CCTV, the state broadcaster, the diagnostic robot is developed based on the brain-machine interface (BMI) technologies from Tianjin University.
Users wear a non-invasive electrode cap to have their brain wave signals collected.
The cap then converts the signals into digital signals and feeds them to a smart chip.
The chip will process the data and decide whether the users show symptoms of depression, and to what extent.
A 2022 survey of 6,670 Chinese adults shows that some 6.8% of them suffered from depression at least once in their life, while another 3.4% reported battling the mental disorder in the past 12 months.
China has an estimated 95 million victims of varying degrees of depression, the survey adds.
Screenshot from CCTV news report
Also on display at the “Summer Davos” were other BMI-related research results, especially AI-powered assistive medicine, which scientists said is already applied in a number of hospitals.
A highlight among them is a neurorehab system tailored to mobility-impaired patients. Victims of lower extremity handicaps can wear an electrode cap to gather their electroencephalogram (EEG) signals.
As with the depression screening robot, these signals are then processed into digital signals to be analyzed on a computer.
Afterward, the computer will issue commands to a wearable exoskeleton to help patients perform desired therapeutic exercises.
“This neural assistive mobility system has been adopted for clinical application at various hospitals,” Zhang Haixia, a researcher at Nankai University, told CCTV.
“Even if it didn’t achieve the expected rehab effects, the exoskeleton would help the user walk again,” she noted.