I, for one, welcome our new boob-groping robotic overlords

Robotic arm for breast exams

Women living in remote areas who don't have easy access to health care will someday be able to have a breast exam thanks to robotic technology being developed at Michigan State University.

A health-care provider will slip the hand into a glove-like instrument to move the robotic arm that is with the patient in a remote location. "That arm, which actually looks like a hand, is equipped with sensors," explained Carol Slomski, at MSU. "As the hand touches the patient, the sensation from this touch comes back into my hand. When the robotic fingers feel a lump or some other abnormality, I also feel it."

I love this notion that these "remote areas with no health care" are more likely to have a boob-bot than to have a doctor who knows how to do a breast exam. "Yeah, here in Outer Bumfuckistan, you can't swing a cat without hitting a robot technician, but a general practicioner? Forget it."

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47 Responses:

  1. shawnj says:

    Only problem I can see is that you can't smack it if it gets fresh and squeezes your breast until it explodes.

  2. thornyc says:

    Did anyone NOT see Robocop?!?!!!

  3. spike says:

    Ob. reference to video by Breast Cancer Society of Canada wherein teenage boys offer to perform breast exams...

  4. pavel_lishin says:

    Medical applications are for pussies.

    When, oh when will they build a robotic penis that I can use to remotely have sex with women on the interwebs?

  5. anaisdjuna says:

    I, for one, do not!

    Jeez flattening them out on the mammogram was bad enuff!

    • jesus_x says:

      I've always wondered (well, not always, just for the 30 seconds after "mammogram" comes up in the conversation) how to women with breast implants do these? I mean, it's not like a plastic bag full of water is going to be somehow MORE resistant to pressure than skin and flesh. Otherwise the concept of the water baloon would be radically different.

      • lars_larsen says:

        Under the muscle implants fix this problem. Over the muscle causes serious problems, but I think they can still do it somehow.

        • jesus_x says:

          Submuscular implants also look much better than subglandular, which tend to have the bubble-boob, helium inflated look.

          Of course, I still prefer all-natural boobs on my women. As the wise Dir Mix-a-lot once said, "silicone parts are made for toys."

          • lars_larsen says:

            I agree. But I think women do it more for themselves than for other people. With the exception of those who do it for business purposes :)

  6. amcmillan says:

    How long until we see a lawsuit from a woman who thought she was being examined by her doctor, but later found out it was actually the janitor and the UPS delivery guy?

  7. mysterc says:

    when the robotic hands start groping women we can have the robo bouncers toss them out!

    • romulusnr says:

      I sure hope these remote areas use encryption.

      Can't wait until the massive boob-feeler hack. CyberGroper Terrorizes Outer Mongolians!

  8. ammonoid says:

    I love you cold unfeeling robot arm!

    Couldn't resist, tho the point is that its supposed to cop a feel.

  9. diemoniker says:

    This feels more like the sort of thing that a person with an NEA grant would produce.Is this what happens when you defund the NEA and throw all this grant money towards scientific developments with theoretically commercial applications. Do conceptual artists start moseying into scientific grant writing?

    Don't forget they'll also need a technician to repair the robot arm while it's out in the field. A roving health educator with a backpack full of breast models could do a better job, since women are generally better at finding lumps in their own bosoms (once they know what to look for) than a medical professional, especially a medical professional interacting through a robotic interface.

    • jwz says:
        This feels more like the sort of thing that a person with an NEA grant would produce.

      Totally! I'm surprised they didn't mention something about its Homeland Security applications. That's standard boilerplate on this sort of thing these days.

      I love the idea of a roving doctor heading out into the wilds with a bag full of boobs. It reminds me of the awesome Eversmile, New Jersey.

    • strspn says:

      The unspoken (because also unproven) postulate is that if you have robots that can fix people, then robots that can fix other robots are easy, because people are harder to fix.

      Spot the other two flaws in that line of thinking.

  10. hafnir says:

    So it's basically the tactile equivalent of instead of looking directly at your naked wife looking at her naked through a video camera. And this is better?

  11. pfrank says:

    this is so completely impractical it has to be someones faked up grant proposal they snuck through to have an excuse to work on their secret teledildonics project.

    • strspn says:

      I'm hoping it's the remote surgery people showing off a little. They deserve to.

      However, the point does stand that there is no excuse for the federal Graduate Medical Education system continuing to pay medical schools to limit the number of physicians that they produce, to the tune of $400 million a year in New York alone. This is one of the very few things that Michelle Malkin is correct about.

      If you need more doctors, then the market is supposed to provide them. Paying a subisidy to medical schools to not train as many physicians as they are capable of is a million times worse than paying a farmers to refrain from growing as many crops as they can.

  12. jope says:

    Maybe not so much remote areas with no health care, as hostile environments. The U.S. military absolutely loves the idea of robotic medics on the battlefield! Alongside the multitude of robotic killing machines, of course -- so yes, there will be technicians aplenty.

    I'm kidding. Any such tactile units would quickly be monopilized for the purpose of satellite-feed Internet sluts giving hand-jobs to the predominantly male grunts.

    • tfofurn says:

      The U.S. military absolutely loves the idea of robotic medics on the battlefield!

      I'm trying to visualize an under-fire soldier being subjected to a physical on the battlefield because some remote doctor happens to be available halfway around the world.

      Personally, I think they should start out working on testicular exams instead. Once the scientists are confident that it's gentle enough for ball work, it'll definitely be safe enough for breast work.

    • merovingian says:

      This is the only way we can be sure that our girls overseas are getting the best breast exams possible while they're being shot at.

  13. pjustice says:

    So, in addition to having these big expensive gadgets in the field where there are no GPs, we presume broadband for telepresence? Lag? "I'm going to squeeze your testicle now." "Aieeeeeeee!" "Oh, sorry. Network must be congested today."

  14. capo_mojo says:

    Why mess with the boob groping robotic overlords when we've already got the Internet Mammogram:


  15. basal_surge says:

    ... In those parts of the conservative islamic world where doctors are not allowed to conduct physical examinations of female patients, or have to do so under severely restricted conditions, due to the restrictions of purdah law.

  16. xenogram says:

    Brilliant lads. Just think of the potential for remote prostate exams!

  17. j_v_lynch says:

    I love this notion that these "remote areas with no health care" are more likely to have a boob-bot than to have a doctor who knows how to do a breast exam.

    Actually, this is pretty likely. The doctors don't want to go there (for example northern Canada) because there are not enough patients for them to make a living (compared to a major city). A lot of smaller communities have had problems with their doctors just leaving.

    I don't know if by "a living" they mean 3 BMWs and a large house with a pool, or just paying off their student loans.

    • jesus_x says:

      Ok, so really, the thing is the communities can't afford the doctors. There's not enough business to support the doctor. So if you can't afford a doctor who does lots fo different medical procedures at $60-100k a year, how will they afford a $300k machine that does nothing but fondle breasts? And invariably an attendant to make sure the machine is in working order and doesn't accidentally tear her breast off...

      • king_mob says:

        The Gubbermint buys one and sends it to each under-doctored community for a week at a time. Women in each community schedule an exam during that week. There's such a thing as thinking too much, you know.

        • jwz says:

          Surely the gubbermint could more easily pay for a doctor than pay for a robot and the robot's posse of machinists and satellite-uplink sysadmins. There is, in fact, such a thing as thinking too much.

          • boringfrob says:

            Ah ha, but the trick is that the ROBOT doesn't CARE if it's in Outer Bumfuckistan, whereas many doctors don't want to go there, regardless of the pay. I've always gotten the impression that that's more of a problem for areas like the North here in Canada, then just the pay.

            As an aside, is this the first time anyone on LJ has been accused of thinking too much?

            • artlung says:

              Why can't the breast exam robot be mobile? Kind of like the bookmobile, but instead of books, it's the disembodied tit-examining cyberdoc.

              When SkyNet becomes conscious, there's a whole range of possibilities that become possible assuming some of SkyNet's minions are breast grabbing mobile robots.

  18. snitrocket says:

    We could have a cold, unfeeling robo-arm that could grope 10,000 chick/hour. That would be a land speed record, I think.

  19. carbonunit says:

    Manual breast examination is something of an art. The reason is that breasts normally contain lumps of varying kinds, being the milk glands, bands of muscle and other structure. Usually women go to the same clinic each time they get examined and the clinic keeps and updates a map of the inner structure of their breast, or at least a description. They are not looking for lumps per se, but changes in the lumps or new ones forming. It's advisable to go to the same doctor each time, because she will have the same idiosyncratic touch and be able to understand the map better and tell if one of the glands has become a tumour. I doubt the feedback on this robot would be sensitive enough to get that kind of resolution.

    (I am male but I learnt all about these mysteries when my GF had breast cancer a few years ago. They caught it in time partly because she was diligent about getting examined.)

  20. romulusnr says:

    aaaaand why is it again that decent software projects can't get VC anymore?

    i have an idea for a product to help struggling remote areas. it will consist of a piece of cold latex attached to a solenoid and an internet connection. On the control end, you pour water into a device, and on the receiving end, the latex will waggle against a starving child's tongue.

  21. vatine says:

    Telesdildonics has taken a huge step forward! Next I want to see this released as "iGrope"!

  22. dolphingeek says:

    Hi, thanks for checking out my livejournal.

  23. airmax says:

    they plan to use it on Mars? To sqeeze the martians, if they have boobs of course.