Researchers have developed a robot that has been specifically designed to converse and offer companionship to old people, specifically in retirement homes.
It has been built alongside researchers at the University of Lincoln to help older generations remember things and stay more active – both in mind and in body.
It will monitor its subject and prompt them with things they need to remember without telling them directly, although it will tell them if they need to take medication and other essential things that could have a more negative effect if they were to forget.
“One of the big problems of mild cognitive impairment is temporary memory loss,” said Dr. Nicola Bellotto from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln in the UK and one of the principal investigators of ENRICHME told Phys.org.
“The goal of the project was to assist and monitor people with cognitive impairments and offer basic interactions to help a person maintain their cognitive abilities for longer.”
Just like games aimed at children to develop their minds, the robot plays games with its elderly companion, testing their brain function and exercising it if need be. It can even remember where things that are commonly lost – like keys, a wallet or a phone – and tell its human where they are if they appear to have forgotten.
It can also track vital signs such as temperature with a thermal imaging sensor to check its elderly companion, as well as their heart rate and respiration, identifying if they were getting stressed, so the robot could assist.
ENRICHME’s robot was tested at three retirement homes in England, Greece and Poland to test its communication with international clients, to ensure it could be used around the world and in different languages. In each of the trials, the robot was assigned to either a single – or multiple people and sensors were used around the homes to track those taking part in the trial.