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Circuit Breaker

Grandma’s 'friendly robot walker' can help her find new friends

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Berlin Senior Citizens' Week Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

We youths bond with each other through the internet. But as we age, we're going to need more to talk about than our perfect Insta grid and online aesthetic. What could that common ground be if not avocado toast and lipstick colors? Walkers. Yes, we'll be frail and unable to walk alone, so might as well commiserate with one another.

European researchers are testing a new walker, the FriWalk, which they call a "friendly robot walker." I love friendly robot walkers! It not only helps people walk, as walkers of the past did, but also offers "cognitive and emotional support" by helping users navigate their surroundings more effectively. It's even got a friendly robot tablet that uses facial recognition to figure out how users are feeling and whether they're stressed. This is paired with heart rate monitoring for a fuller picture. Oh, and the friendly robot also serves as a personal trainer that offers ideas for physical activity.

But back to the bonding. All this data culminates in what the researchers hope will become a "CyberPhysical Social Network." They'd group users together based on what activities they enjoy and then let them know when a worthwhile event is happening. One hundred seniors in Spain, Italy, and England are testing the product until 2018.