In hospitals, technology has become pervasive and indispensable during medical crises. At home, technology proliferates as computerized health monitoring systems and, perhaps in the future, as assistive "humanoid" robots. Meanwhile, our everyday environments remain essentially conventional: low-tech and ill-adaptive to dramatic life changes. This social condition places strain on healthcare and family support systems, and represents a failure of scientists, engineers and architects to support independent living. The overall aim of this effort is to enhance everyday environments with intelligent hardware promoting independent living. This project is focused on a discrete component of an envisioned suite of networked, robotic furniture integrated into existing living environments: an Assistive, Robotic Table [ART]. ART is the hybrid of a typical nightstand and the over-the-bed table found in hospital rooms, comprised of a novel "continuum robotic" table surface that gently folds, extends, and reconfigures to support work and leisure activities; a smart storage volume that physically manages and delivers personal effects; and an accessorized headboard. These components of ART recognize, communicate with, and partly remember each other in interaction with human users and with other components of the suite. The key deliverable for this award is the full-scale, working ART prototype performing "going-to-bed" and "awaking" scenarios for three target groups. Our trans-disciplinary team will develop this complex physical-digital artifact by way of iterative design and evaluation activities that recognize engineering design, architectural design and human-centered design as inseparable. Key outcomes of the research are the "continuum robotic" surface as well as an innovative approach to human mobility and its metrics for intelligent, physical artifacts. The key broader impact of the research is intelligent "architectural robotic" ART, empowering people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, even as their physical capabilities alter over time; and, in more grave circumstances, affording people some semblance of feeling "at home" as user and ART move to assisted care facilities. This work is jointly funded by the Office of International Science and Engineering.

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Clemson University
United States
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