China deploys robots in schools for daily health inspections

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More than 2,000 preschools in China have introduced robots used for daily health inspections, according to a new report. The robots, which feature fun designs that won’t frighten children, utilize tech to detect signs of a potential illness. If a robot finds evidence that a child may be sick, it alerts human operators who can then do their own evaluation and decide whether the student should be sent home.

Details about the health robot inspections were published by New Scientist, which reports the health checkups take only three seconds and support the detection of multiple common conditions, including hand, foot and mouth disease. Kids show the Walklake health robots their face, eyes, throats, and hands; sensors also take the student’s temperature to detect fevers.

The robots are utilized under the premise that catching an illness before it has time to become obviously symptomatic may prevent its spread through the wider school system. Given the rapid speed of its evaluation, the robot is able to quickly inspect a large number of children when compared to humans.

The robots have raised privacy concerns, however, particularly in light of China’s increased use of tracking and facial technologies both within and beyond the nation’s school system. It’s unclear how data gathered by these robots is handled, but the potential exists for it to be compromised by hackers.

Security concerns aside, the Walklake robot highlights some of the potential benefits robotic technologies offer humans in daily life. Illnesses that aren’t detected early may cause a large number of children to become ill, for example, potentially causing large absences during the school year. This, in turn, may have a negative effect on grades.

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