Waseda University's Kabe Lab exhibited Jukusui-kun, a robotic bear, at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo earlier this month. Jukusui-kun is a medical appliance intended for people who have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder typified by loud snoring, which can have grave health effects on its sufferers. Jukusui-kun is a plush bear that you use as a pillow, which receives blood-oxygen readings from a monitor on the sleeper's hand. When oxygen levels drop (people with apnea stop breathing for long periods -- the snore is a kind of gasp for air), the bear's robot arm reaches around and tickles its user's face, so that the user rolls onto his side, where breathing is less labored.
Dr Kabe’s Jukusuri-Kun works through the person asleep wearing a similarly cute pulse-oxygen meter attached to the hand which sends readings of the amount of oxygen in the blood to a terminal running a program with the persons vital statistics pre-programmed in. To eliminate the intrusion of wires preventing a good sleep the team also developed a cordless technology which uses the human bodies natural conductive properties to communicate with a conductive sheet that lies under the bed sheet. The pillow itself also houses a microphone which analyses the decibel level of the snorer. When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow’s hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.