Robot Nurses, Robot Doctors

Robotics companies are teaming up with health care providers to innovate how patients receive care. Medicine is the next arena about to undergo an information revolution.

What's the Latest Development?

A well known robotics company is teaming up with a large health care provider, hoping to revolutionize the way patients receive medical care. iRobot, the company which makes the Roomba robo-vacuum, has invested $6 million in InTouch Health, a telemedicine company which operates 80 hospitals worldwide. iRobot will be looking to extend the reach of its 'tablet-compatible telepresence robot', a device which facilitates communication between doctors and patients separated by wide physical distances.

What's the Big Idea?

Rapidly advancing technology, particularly in the fields of communication and information, is creating a new generation of medical tools. Toyota has recently displayed its idea for robotic nurses and powerful exoskeletons are enabling the paralyzed to walk. By combining the navigation technology iRobot developed for the Roomba, "medical telepresence robots may not just be a staple in hospitals, but in the homes of the ailing and elderly, too." Sharing the technology, perhaps to reduce costs, may revive the defunct practice of making house calls.

Photo credit:

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Keep reading Show less

Apparently even NASA is wrong about which planet is closest to Earth

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less