Tag Archives: social responsibility

Meet Zora, the Robotic Caregiver

Aging is a fact of life. No matter how hard we try to fight it, the years keep adding up and our bodies keep aging. According to MIT’s Age Lab, the world is currently at a historical high of more than 600 million people over the age of 65! By the year 2030, there will be an estimated one billion people over 65, growing to 1.6 billion by 2050.

This growth, while affecting the entire globe, is of primary importance in wealthy countries where spending by and for this age group is in the trillions of dollars. The aging population will also require more caregivers than ever before. But there is a shortage of such people. Creative solutions are needed to address the gap. What can be done?

Meet Zora, the caregiver robot, now a resident of a number of care facilities in France and Australia. Zora can join with care facility residents for activities such as aerobics, singing, playing games, and reading. Although Zora is small in stature, she speaks an impressive 19 languages. And, Zora cares for children as well as adults. Patients develop an emotional attachment to Zora, holding, kissing, and cuddling the robot. More than 1,000 Zora robots have been sold to hospitals and care facilities; pricing is $18,000 per unit.

Of course, Zora is not a substitute for a trained human caregiver or health care worker, but she sure makes people smile!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of robotics. Where is it going? Who will benefit?
  2. Show Zora the robot: http://zorarobotics.be/index.php/en/
  3. Videos can be found at Zora’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbT8GS9L_IdYvpCeNRd2gVg
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. Have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?

Source: Satariano, A., Peltier, E., & Kostyukov, D. (23 November 2018). Meet Zora, the robot caregiver. New York Times.

 

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The World Needs a Better Toilet

In the United States we seldom think about the importance of toilets. Good hygiene and working sewage is just something that the average citizen assumes will always be there, and always work. However, this is not true for the rest of the world where hygiene is a critical health and wellness issue.

More than half of the world’s population – roughly 4.5 billion people – live without access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. Estimates are that globally, unsafe sanitation costs the world’s population $223 billion (yes, billion) a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost wages. It is an issue that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking very seriously, pledging $200 million over the past seven years to help reinvent toilets, and pledging another $200 million more to get companies to understand the problem – and business –  of human waste.

At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, held last fall in Beijing, companies showcased new toilets that could recycle water, separate urine from other waste, and even with solar roofs. Mr. Gates told the audience that human waste contains 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, and other harmful organisms.

This might not be an easy subject to discuss, and a lot of bad jokes will undoubtable be told in class, but it is an issue that affects the world, and one that product innovation can help to solve.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of waste, sanitation, and fixtures.
  2. What happens when sanitation is poor? What are the impacts?
  3. Show Bill Gates video: https://youtu.be/M9nRsJinHhM
  4. View Gates Foundation site: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  5. View Toilets for People for an example of a business: https://www.toiletsforpeople.com/
  6. Have students research other companies with a similar mission and objective.
  7. What social issues matter to the students?

Source: Wee, Sui-Lee (6 Nov. 2018). In China, Bill Gates encourages the world to build a better toilet. New York Times.

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Grandkids On-Demand

Even though it’s a fact of life, aging can be lonely. Friends and family members may have passed on, moved away, or moved into care facilities. And, caregiving for someone who is older can be hard when the caregivers also have other responsibilities such as families and full-time jobs. This was the need behind a new service called ‘Papa’ which helps provide senior citizens with a little extra attention through what it calls ‘Grandkids On-Demand’.

Papa has a simple premise – to provide college students to help senior citizens. It connects students with the seniors for tasks such as driving, shopping, reading, laundry, pet help, technology help, or even just companionship. It emphasizes a fun was for two generations to connect and frees senior citizens from being confined or left on the margins of life.

Members (the senior citizens) pay a monthly fee of $15 to $30 to belong, plus $15 per hour for visits from the Papa Pals (the college students). The Pals must be enrolled in college or working on a masters degree, social work degree, or nursing or medical degree. Pals must also have a four-door car and pass a background check. Pals are given the company’s personality test which look for people with empathy, patience, and the ability to draw people into conversation. The biggest focus is on curing loneliness; being with a younger person stimulates the seniors – relationships form to help both parties understand the world.

Become a Pal and help Papa.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Do they have family members or friends that fall into this category? How do these people get assistance?
  2. Review Papa: https://www.joinpapa.com/
  3. Make sure to show some of the videos available on the Web site to illustrate how the service works: https://www.joinpapa.com/video-gallery/
  4. Discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team use laptops to do general research to analyze the market for Papa. (Ex: overview of industry, size, growth, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.)
  6. Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board.

Source: Bahrampour, T. (20 June 2018). These college kids moonlight as ‘grandkids’ for hire. Washington Post.

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