Socially assistive robots (SARs) have the potential to significantly improve overall health and quality of life for aging individuals. We propose to develop a novel SAR that provides personalized physical and cognitive assistance and motivation to elderly users to improve their overall health and well-being.
The Specific Aims for Phase I are 1) to develop an affective interface for social interaction with elderly users, and 2) develop a non- contact physical activity monitoring system using a 3D range camera.
These aims provide the foundation for Phase II by demonstrating the technological feasibility of an affective interface and non-contact activity monitoring. Phase II of the project will evaluate the effectiveness of using the SAR to provide motivation for physical and cognitive exercise with elderly individuals. The potential market for this SAR is very large. It addresses a clear need for long-term personalized social assistance, for physical and cognitive exercise, which the current health care and elder care systems cannot accommodate. It has the potential to facilitate elderly individuals living independently in their own homes, to enhance their quality of life, and most importantly, to improve their overall health.
The world's population is growing older, and it is estimated that in 2050 there will be three times more people over the age 85 than there are today. Space and staff shortages in nursing homes and other care facilities are already becoming an issue today. There is a great need to develop assistive systems aimed at aging-in-place and facilitating living independently in one's own home as long as possible.