Ah, robots. They’re the fascination of some of the world’s most popular science fiction tales, and for many people, are the messengers of doom. And while we’d be quick to dispel any of those maddening rumors, we have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation when we see things like this. Sure, it’s only a robot that simulates a dental experience, but what’s next? Only your imagination (or, the imagination of some scientists somewhere) knows the answer to that. In any case, meet Hanako. She’s a dental patient simulator.
Hanako is the result of several entities working together. Three universities: Waseda, Showa, and Kogakuin. And a robot maker: Tmsuk. The result is a robot that can simulate several attributes of your “general” dental patient. She can sneeze, open and close her mouth, blink, and even produce “robot saliva.” If that’s not creepy enough, Hanako can also speak, and tell you when things “hurt” her. The robotic body was created by Tmsuk, but the features were implemented by the dentistry faculties in the universities.
A lot of professions have people testing on real-life people to pass a certain portion of the class. In the case of hair dressers, many friends are subject to sacrificing their hair for the greater good of those they love. But, dentistry is a bit more technical, and, if mistakes are made, can cause physical pain to those subject to the tests. Hanako was created specifically for those purposes, those same tests, so that people wouldn’t have to undergo them. So, if a dental student messes up, Hanako will voice her pain, or will react with a vomiting reflex. You get the real thing, without actually having someone throw-up on you. Check out the video to watch her in action.