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A personalised robot companion for older people

Posted August 20, 2013
A personalised robot companion for older people

A personalised robot companion for older people
Credit: MOBISERV project

A highly customisable robot companion designed by EU-funded researchers to offer support to older people is currently being presented across Europe and could find its way into people’s homes within two or three years, potentially greatly enhancing quality of life for older citizens and people with memory or mobility problems.

The robot, a mobile wheeled semi-humanoid figure equipped with cameras, sensors, audio and a touch screen interface, can remind users to take their medicine, suggest they have their favourite drink or prompt them to go for a walk or visit friends if they haven’t been out for a while. As part of a larger smart-home environment that can include smart clothing to monitor vital signs, the system can monitor user’s health and safety, and alert emergency services if something is amiss.

‘Across Europe, populations are growing older, and many people need care in some way. Care may be provided by professionals at home or in a care facility, but often the caregiver is the person’s partner or another family member. What we are seeing is that carers may also need additional support themselves, especially if they are also older – our vision is that technology can provide it,’ explains Mr Herjan van den Heuvel of Smart Homes, the Dutch Expertise Centre on Home Automation and Smart Living, which oversaw the robot’s development.

The median age across the European Union’s current 28 Member States, which was around 41.2 years in 2011, is projected to rise to 47.6 years by 2060, while the number of people aged 65 and over will almost double to make up 29.5 % of the population, according to Eurostat’s latest population projections. Meanwhile, the percentage of people aged 80 and above is expected to triple by 2060.


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