With the aging of populations in many countries around the world, particularly Japan, there are ever increasing numbers of elderly to care for, but relatively fewer younger people to do the job. Robots have long been seen as a means of filling the gap and Panasonic is set to unveil its latest technology designed to do just that. The three robotic devices set to make their debut at the upcoming 38th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.2011) in Tokyo include a communication assistance robot and new models of the company's Hair-Washing Robot and RoboticBed.

Panasonic's "HOSPI" automatic medication delivery robot has already made it into hospitals in Japan and other countries where it is used to sort and transport medications to nurse stations. The HOSPI-Rimo employs the same self guiding technology and high-definition visual communications technology found in HOSPI, but is tasked with serving as an intermediary to provide communication between people who are bedridden or have limited mobility to communicate and others, such as an attending doctor somewhere else in the hospital or far flung friends and family, as if they were interacting face to face.

Like its predecessor that was unveiled at last year's H.C.R.2010, Panasonic's new Hair-Washing Robot can perform all the tasks of your favorite hairdresser - minus the gossip - from wetting to shampooing, rinsing, conditioning and drying, as well as a spot massage. Panasonic has updated this latest model to feature washing arms with more fingers - 24 up from 16 - and improved mechanics that Panasonic says delivers a more comfortable wash.

The third robotic device is the latest version of Panasonic's RoboticBed, which was first introduced at H.C.R.2009. It is an electric bed that is more than meets the eye, transforming into an electric wheelchair and back again. Panasonic says this latest model sees the implementation of a number of improvements requested by both caregivers and recipients, including a simplified control interface, and also addresses practical and safety issues identified under the Project for Practical Applications of Service Robots coordinated by an independent Japanese administrative agency called NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization).

Panasonic will unveil the new HOSPI-Rimo and updated Hair-Washing Robot and RoboticBed at H.C.R.2011, which runs from October 5 to 7, 2011 at the Tokyo Big Site.