Nose-swabbing COVID-19 robot offers terrifying vision of the future

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These are snot the droids you are looking for.

A Taiwanese medtech startup has unveiled a robot that can perform nasal-swab coronavirus tests autonomously.

Brain Navi says its Nasal Swab Robot could help prevent cross-infections and free up healthcare staff to tackle more pressing work, according to tech website The Verge.

This is how it works: A patient puts on a nasal clip that the machine uses to orientate itself, and then places their head in a metal bracket like those used for eye exams.

A depth-sensing camera then scans the patient’s face and measures the distance from nostril to ear canal.

The bot then independently locates the nostril, inserts the swab, twirls it and then pulls it out and places it in a sterile tube.

Video of the procedure shows one test subject gripping onto the bracket while the machine probes ever deeper up his schnoz.

And the company admitted that allowing a robot arm to stick a swab up your nose can seem scary.

“Our founder Jerry [Chen Chieh-Hsiao] was the first one to have a nasal swab from the robot and he was terrified,” a spokesperson for the company, Zoe Lee, told The Verge.

But, she said, it’s all a matter of familiarity. “I think people will be frightened because it’s a new thing but that’s normal.

“We’ve heard the feedback and are figuring out how to reduce this terrifying feeling.”

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