Introducing the Mabu Personal Healthcare Companion

Our team at Catalia Health is very excited to finally reveal the project that we’ve been working on for the better part of the past year.  This is the Mabu personal healthcare companion, an intelligent, socially interactive robot whose conversations are tailored to each patient that she works with.
Mabu the personal healthcare companion is the face of Catalia Health’s platform for patient engagement.  We’ll be talking more about the backend software algorithms and medical best practices that drive her conversations with patients in the future.  She’s designed to help patients with the myriad challenges of chronic disease management and will be first rolled out this year to help a particular group of patients manage the medication portion of their treatment.
The video that is part of this post and on our home page as of today shows the renderings of the robot that we completed with IDEO in April while we were Startup in Residence in their San Francisco studio.  Mabu is designed to be friendly and approachable (more in that in a future post) and is fairly straightforward in terms of the robotics.  She isn’t mobile, but can make eye contact while carrying on a conversation with someone and is capable of simple gestures with her head and eyes.  She holds a tablet-like screen in front of her that she uses during conversations to convey additional information.
The name Mabu is short for mabutaki, a Japanese word meaning to blink and mabudachi, or best friend.  The Catalia Health team revisited the name of our new healthcare companion for months, going through hundreds of names.  We liked a name that would have something to do with her eyes since we know that is a key piece of capturing attention.  We were also looking for something unique and, as opposed to countless other words we considered or thought we coined, Mabu doesn’t pop up as an existing product.
Over the next few months we will be launching the first application with two of our pharma customers.  This one will help a particular group of patients take their medications, talk through their challenges in doing so, and connect them with their pharmacist when beneficial.  Regular conversations between Mabu and the patient let us learn enough about each individual and their treatment to provide tailored help for staying with their medication regime.
Mabu and the Catalia Health platform are the latest products based on the work of Dr. Cory Kidd.  This work on healthcare robotics started more than a decade ago at the MIT Media Lab and Boston University Medical Center, continued through the Autom™ robot at Intuitive Automata, and is now rolling out in Catalia Health’s products.
What do you think about this technology?  Let us know in the comments here or on Twitter at either @coryk or @cataliahealth.