WINNIPEG -- Science fiction has long envisioned a future where robots provide health care to humans.

It appears the future has now arrived.

Manitoba is teaming up with Victoria Hospital to study the use of a robot that is designed for two-way communication between a caregiver and their patient when the caregiver is not home.

The study with the telepresence robot will look at the use of them to help people living with dementia as a way to extend stay-at-home care.

The research is receiving $470,000 worth of funding.

robot announcement

(CTV News Photo Zachary Kitchen)

“Our province is committed to ensuring that our research and innovation investments are aligned with industry need and health-care priorities,” said Ralph Eichler, who is the minister of Economic Development and Training.

As part of the research, there will also be a research competition that is set to begin in the fall.

"What I am hoping we will be able to do, over the next two years, is to have our friend here, the robot that we have here, and we're going to see how can we adapt this to help people with dementia lead more meaningful engaged lives in their community," said Dr. Reg Urbanowski, who is the dean and associate professor for the College of Rehabilitation Sciences at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.

"We believe that you can use these telepresence robots as a way to help the communication between people and to connect them to the world. Especially during this time of COVID, we have found that people feel socially isolated, they feel depressed," he added.


(CTV News Photo Zachary Kitchen)

Urbanowski, who is the lead researcher for this project, said it is important to have communication and this technology can help with that.

The plan is to have several of these robots and modify them and put them in homes of people who live with dementia.

The hope is it will help them maintain their home and family life and also save the health-care system money in the long term.

September is World Alzheimer's Month, which is a campaign designed to help raise awareness about dementia.