Robotic patient helps dental students test their skills

A robotic dental patient called Simroid is helping aspiring dentists in Japan better learn their craft, according to a report from BBC News.

Simroid -- invented by Naotake Shibui, a professor in the division of pediatric dentistry at Nippon Dental University Hospital, and being commercialized by J. Morita WFG, Nissin Dental Products, and Kokoro -- has sensors in its teeth and body that let the patient know how they are doing, according to the BBC.

Movements such as blinks and muffled gurgles are designed to show normal patient responses such as fear, discomfort, pain, and tension, and sensors in the robot's teeth trigger red lights to illustrate when a drill has gone too far.

The robot has also been designed so that when it speaks, it does so with the open-mouthed series of grunts familiar to anyone who has sat in the dentist's chair with a mouthful of foam.

A new version of the robot, Simrod II, is now in the works, according to the BBC. It will have improved response, automatic voice recognition, and speech synthesis.

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