Robic, the therapy robot that facilitates rehabilitation sessions


A specialized rehabilitation therapy robot? That’s right. Technology is advancing further. Inrobics is a project focused on robotic rehabilitation that engineers José Carlos Pulido and José Carlos González have been developing since 2016. Both are young entrepreneurs, PhDs from the Carlos III University of Madrid, and co-founders of Inrobics Social Robotics, S.L.L. This is the result of the evolution of the research that led to the development of the first NaoTherapist model.

As we will explain later, the NaoTherapist platform consists of a robot (Nao), an application to configure sessions, an Artificial Intelligence system, and a 3D sensor.

Nao, the fun component of NaoTherapist

Before discussing the Inrobics Rehab Clinic solution, it is essential to talk about Robic, the robotic unit that acts not as a substitute but as an assistant to the therapist. To begin with, Robic is the proper name designated by Inrobics to distinguish the robot configured with its own software. The robot model is NAO, a humanoid robot created in 2006 by the French robotics development company Aldebaran. Its goal in development was to offer a human-like robot with mechanical, electronic, and cognitive abilities at a more affordable price to reach a broader audience. But beyond that, the purpose was for Nao to become another family member, capable of helping with household tasks like any other household member.

NAO has a platform that allows the incorporation of additional functions or extras through various applications. Hence, the founders of Inrobics chose it for the NaoTherapist research project and gave the robot its own name by developing specific software. The latest version of the robot, NAO6, released in 2018, serves as a companion for diabetic children and is also frequently used in the educational field.

Standing at a height of 58 cm, the NAO model is a bipedal robot with rounded shapes and has evolved continuously since its launch. Indeed, the latest version, NAO6, includes a new CPU that enhances the robot’s performance. Its design and appearance, similar to a character from a science fiction movie, make it ideal for interacting with children aged seven and above. Apart from that, it is suitable for use at all educational levels, from preschool to higher education.

Capabilities and functionalities of Robic, the robotic co-therapist from Inrobics

The versatility and exceptional features make this robot an indispensable component for delicate projects like this.

One of the most prominent features of Robic is its ability to detect people’s moods and express emotions such as sadness, joy, surprise, and fear.

Weighing 4.3 kg, Robic, the NAO model, is lightweight and compact, making it a great solution for coexisting with humans. The robot’s hands have grippable fingers with touch sensors, allowing it to lift objects weighing up to 600 grams.

The robot is controlled by an operating system called NAOqi, which manages different elements of the unit, such as sensors, motors, and software. Additionally, Robic is equipped with Wi-Fi and can connect in the office or at home, either using WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy).

NAO also features four microphones for communication and understands and speaks 20 different languages. It can even recognize sounds from any angle. Two detection cameras allow Nao to identify objects in its surroundings, and its articulated robotic arms enable it to stand up on its own in case of a fall.

It can also recognize people it talks to and remember their names after several days. The latest version, V6 Standard, has up to 25 degrees of freedom and includes an inertial measurement unit with a gyrometer and accelerometer.

Moreover, it has four ultrasound sensors that provide stability. Touch sensors on the head, hands, and feet, as well as cameras and microphones, allow it to perceive its environment and locate itself in space to interact within it.

Inrobics, robotics and artificial intelligence combined to enhance medical rehabilitation

Our company, Inrobics Social Robotics, S.L.L., is a spinoff from Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M). It originated from research that led to the first NaoTherapist solution, evolved into Inrobics. In summary, the development consists of an innovative robotic device that provides motor and cognitive rehabilitation services in clinical and home settings. The platform comprises four elements:

  • Firstly, Robic, the robot that interacts with the patient.
  • An artificial intelligence system that, along with a 3D sensor, controls the robot.
  • An app for healthcare professionals to configure and monitor sessions.
  • Additionally, a cloud storage system is used to collect and analyze information about the rehabilitation processes.

The solution offered by Inrobics, Inrobics Rehab Clinic, allows for activities based on imitation and sets of exercises that are very useful for improving the quality of life of patients.

In the case of children, interacting with the robot is perceived as a playful activity, facilitating rehabilitation. Undoubtedly, this is a significant added value offered by our platform. Moreover, it can enhance the therapist’s working environment, who often lacks tools tailored to specific patient profiles.

Furthermore, this platform, developed with the guidance of professionals in pediatrics (cognitive and functional diversity) and geriatrics (active aging and accompaniment), is useful in the home environment as a remote rehabilitation resource, thus improving family reconciliation and quality of life.

Some highlighted features of Inrobics Rehab Clinic

In particular, we should highlight some technical details that make Inrobics solutions a viable alternative for rehabilitation, whether in healthcare centers (Inrobics Rehab Clinic) or at home (Inrobics Virtual). On the one hand, the 3D sensor allows capturing the patient’s posture at all times. For example, it can detect if the patient is lifting an arm and, at the same time, turning the spine to compensate for the difficulty. All this information is captured and included in the clinical reports generated by the platform.

On the other hand, the software architecture developed by Inrobics for this tool features Artificial Intelligence techniques. These are what allow Robic to move autonomously (whether it is Robic in its robotic form or the virtual avatar accompanying users at home). In other words, it does not require a technician to teleoperate it. In this sense, it is only necessary for the therapist to customize the entire program of postures and movements that the patient must perform. This is possible through the graphical interface developed for this purpose. Once the session is programmed, the robot stands up and begins to execute it.

The platform participated in a clinical trial conducted at the National Hospital for Paraplegics in Toledo, used in pediatric patients with spinal cord injuries. Similarly, it demonstrated its capabilities at the Lasalle Functional Rehabilitation Institute in Madrid with the same type of patients. There, it carried out sessions of motor recovery exercises and, in some cases, even cognitive skills. Today, five Spanish clinical institutions and more than 300 individual users use Inrobics solutions.

Innovation in Rehabilitation Therapy

At Inrobics, we have introduced a new rehabilitation model that utilizes artificial intelligence and social robots to assist individuals with functional or neurological limitations in improving their quality of life. Contact us for more information about our therapies, how to obtain our robots, request free demonstrations of our services, and discuss business proposals.

Picture of José Carlos González

José Carlos González

PhD in Computer Science and Technology from UC3M, with research focused on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Over 8 years of experience as a researcher leading IT architecture. Academic visitor at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. Extensive experience with control architectures for autonomous robots, planning, and machine learning. Leads and manages software and IT architecture. Possesses substantial experience and leadership in technology and innovation. Committed to developing technologies that enhance people’s quality of life and make healthcare more accessible and efficient for everyone.