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Assistive social robots in elderly care: A review

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Assistive social robots, a particular type of assistive robotics designed for social interaction with humans, could play an important role with respect to the health and psycho-logical well-being of the elderly. Objectives Assistive social robots are believed to be useful in eldercare for two reasons, a functional one and an affective one. Such robots are developed to function as an interface for the elderly with digital technology, and to help increase the quality of life of the elderly by providing companionship, respectively. There is a growing attention for these devices in the literature. However, no comprehensive review has yet been performed to in-vestigate the effectiveness of such robots in the care of the elderly. Therefore, we systematically reviewed and analyzed existing literature on the effects of assistive social robots in health care for the elderly. We focused in particular on the com-panion function. Data Sources A systematic search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, Psy-cINFO, The Cochrane Library databases, IEEE, ACM libraries and finally Google Scholar was performed for records through December 2007 to identify articles of all studies with actual subjects aimed to assess the effects of assistive social robots on the elderly. This search was completed with information derived from personal expertise, contacts and reports. Study Selection and Data Extraction Since no randomized controlled trials (RCT)'s have been found within this field of research, all studies reporting effects of assistive robotics in elderly popula-tions were included. Information on study design, interventions, controls, and findings were extracted for each article. In medical journals only a few articles were found, whereas about 50 publications were found in literature on ICT and robotics. Data Synthesis The identified studies were all published after 2000 in-dicating the novelty of this area of research. Most of these publications contain the results of studies that report positive effects of assistive social robots on health and psychological well-being of elders. Solid evidence indicating that these ef-fects can indeed be attributed to the actual assistive social robot, its behavior and its functionality is scarce. Conclusions There is some qualitative evidence as well as limited quantitative evidence of the positive effects of assistive social robots with respect to the elderly. The research designs, however, are not robust enough to establish this. Confounding variables often cannot be excluded. This is partly due to the chosen research designs, but also because it is unclear what research methodology is adequate to investigate such effects. Therefore, more work on methods is needed as well as robust, large-scale studies to establish the effects of these devices. Assistive social robots in elderly care: a review G8(2)Review-Broekens-v4.indd 1 29-5-2009 10:52:03
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Review
Joost Broekens PhD
Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
E: D.J.Broekens@tudelft.nl
Marcel Heerink MSc
University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
E: m.heerink@hva.nl
Henk Rosendal PhD
University of Applied Sciences, Leiden, The Netherlands
E: rosendal.h@hsleiden.nl
J. Broekens, M. Heerink, H. Rosendal. Assistive social robots in elderly care: a
review. Gerontechnology 2009; 8(2):94-103; doi: 10.4017/gt.2009.08.02.002.00. Assistive
social robots, a particular type of assistive robotics designed for social interaction
with humans, could play an important role with respect to the health and psycho-
logical well-being of the elderly. Objectives Assistive social robots are believed
to be useful in eldercare for two reasons, a functional one and an affective one.
Such robots are developed to function as an interface for the elderly with digital
technology, and to help increase the quality of life of the elderly by providing
companionship, respectively. There is a growing attention for these devices in
the literature. However, no comprehensive review has yet been performed to in-
vestigate the effectiveness of such robots in the care of the elderly. Therefore, we
systematically reviewed and analyzed existing literature on the effects of assistive
social robots in health care for the elderly. We focused in particular on the com-
panion function. Data Sources A systematic search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, Psy-
cINFO, The Cochrane Library databases, IEEE, ACM libraries and finally Google
Scholar was performed for records through December 2007 to identify articles
of all studies with actual subjects aimed to assess the effects of assistive social
robots on the elderly. This search was completed with information derived from
personal expertise, contacts and reports. Study Selection and Data Extraction
Since no randomized controlled trials (RCT)’s have been found within this field
of research, all studies reporting effects of assistive robotics in elderly popula-
tions were included. Information on study design, interventions, controls, and
findings were extracted for each article. In medical journals only a few articles
were found, whereas about 50 publications were found in literature on ICT and
robotics. Data Synthesis The identified studies were all published after 2000 in-
dicating the novelty of this area of research. Most of these publications contain
the results of studies that report positive effects of assistive social robots on health
and psychological well-being of elders. Solid evidence indicating that these ef-
fects can indeed be attributed to the actual assistive social robot, its behavior and
its functionality is scarce. Conclusions There is some qualitative evidence as well
as limited quantitative evidence of the positive effects of assistive social robots
with respect to the elderly. The research designs, however, are not robust enough
to establish this. Confounding variables often cannot be excluded. This is partly
due to the chosen research designs, but also because it is unclear what research
methodology is adequate to investigate such effects. Therefore, more work on
methods is needed as well as robust, large-scale studies to establish the effects
of these devices.
Key words: Assistive robotics, companion robot, Aibo, Paro, Huggable, iCat
Assistive social robots in elderly care: a review
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Assistive social robots
Because of the graying of our western popu-
lation, there is a growing necessity for new
technologies that can assist the elderly in
their daily living. There are two main ar-
guments for this. First, it is expected that
western countries will face a tremendous
shortage on staff and qualified healthcare
personnel in the near future1. Second, peo-
ple prefer more and more to live in their own
homes as long as possible instead of being
institutionalized in sheltered homes, or nurs-
ery homes when problems related to age-
ing appear. To address these issues, we not
only need sufficient health care personnel,
but also the presence and appliance of high-
tech devices2. ICT-technology and robotics
are developing quickly nowadays, resulting
in products that have the potential to play
an important role in assisting the elderly3. In
order to use new technology in an effective
and efficient way, robust information with
respect to their effects is needed, especially
when used in health-care.
In this review we focus on health- and psy-
chological well-being-related effects of as-
sistive social robots on the elderly. Robot
research in eldercare concerns assistive ro-
bots that can be both rehabilitation robots
and social robots (Figure 1). The first type
of research features physical assistive tech-
nology that is not primarily communicative
and is not meant to be perceived as a social
entity. Examples are smart wheelchairs4, ar-
tificial limbs and exoskeletons5. The field of
social robotics concerns systems that can be
perceived as social entities that communi-
cate with the user. Of course there are also
projects with social robots aimed at reha-
bilitation6 and vice versa.
Studies on social robots in eldercare fea-
ture different robot types. First, there are
robots that are used as assistive devices
which we will refer to as service type robots.
Functionalities are related to the support
of independent living by supporting basic
activities (eating, bathing, toileting and get-
ting dressed) and mobility (including navi-
gation), providing household maintenance,
monitoring of those who need continuous
attention and maintaining safety. Examples
of these robots are ‘nursebot’ Pearl7, the
Dutch iCat (although not especially devel-
oped for eldercare) and the German Care-o-
bot8. Also categorized as such could be the
Italian Robocare project, in which a robot is
developed as part of an intelligent assistive
environment for elderly people9. The social
functions of such service type robots exist
primarily to facilitate interfacing with the ro-
bot. Studies typically investigate what differ-
ent social functions can bring to the accept-
ance of the device in the living environment
of the elder, as well as how social functions
can facilitate actual usage of the device.
Second, there are studies that focus on the
pet-like companionship a robot might pro-
vide. The main function of these robots is
to enhance health and psychological well-
being of elderly users by providing com-
panionship. We will refer to these robots
as companion type robots. Examples are
the Japanese seal-shaped robot Paro10, the
Huggable11 (both specifically developed for
experiments in eldercare) and Aibo (a robot
dog by Sony, see below). Social functions
implemented in companion robots are pri-
marily aimed at increasing health and psy-
chological well-being. For example, studies
investigate whether companion robots can
increase positive mood in elderly living in
nursery homes.
However, not all robots can be categorized
strictly in either one of these two groups.
For example, Aibo is usually applied as a
Figure 1. Categorization of assistive robots for elderly
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Assistive social robots
companion type robot, but can also be
programmed to perform assistive activi-
ties12 and both Pearl and iCat can provide
companionship.
This review aims to provide a first overall
overview of studies that investigate the ef-
fects of assistive social robots on the health
and well-being of the elderly. Since the
majority of the assistive social robot stud-
ies with actual elderly people as subjects
involve the robots Aibo, Paro, iCat and
‘nursebot’ Pearl, these robots are briefly
highlighted next.
Aibo
Aibo is an entertainment robot developed
and produced by Sony (Figure 2a)13. It is
currently out of production. It has program-
mable behavior, a hard plastic exterior and
has a wide set of sensors and actuators. Sen-
sors include a camera, touch sensors, in-
frared and stereo sound. Actuators include
four legs, a moveable tail, and a moveable
head. Aibo is mobile and autonomous. It
can find its power supply by itself and it is
programmed to play and interact with hu-
mans. It has been used extensively in studies
with the elderly in order to try to assess the
Figure 2. Assistive social robots; (a) Aibo, (b) Pearl, (c) Robocare with screen, (d) Robocare without
screen, (e) Care-o-bot I, (f) Care-o-bot II, (g) Care-o-bot III, (h) Homie, (i) iCat, (j) Paro and (k) Hug-
gable
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effects on the quality of life and symptoms
of stress. In this article we will review these
studies.
PAro
Paro is a soft seal robot (Figure 2j)10,14. It has
been developed by the Intelligent Systems
Research Institute (ISRI) of the National In-
stitute of Advanced Industrial Science and
Technology (AIST) in Japan, and is produced
by Intelligent System Co. Ltd. It is developed
to study the effects of Animal Assistive Ther-
apy with companion robots, and is targeted
at the elderly. It has programmable behavior
as well as a set of sensors. Sensors include a
touch sensor over the complete body, an in-
frared sensor, stereoscopic vision and hear-
ing. Actuators include eyelids, upper body
motors, front paw and hind limb motors.
Paro is not mobile. It has been used exten-
sively in studies with the elderly to assess
the effects of robot therapy.
iCAt
The iCat has been developed and is pro-
duced by Philips Electronics (Figure 2i)15.
Its design aim is to be a research platform
for human-robot interaction. It is made of
hard plastic and has a cat-like appearance.
Furthermore, it has a face that is able to ex-
press emotions. Studies typically investigate
how users perceive the iCat as interface to
new technology. The iCat is not particularly
aimed at being a companion (i.e., affective
assistance) but more at functional assistance
(classified as service type). However, it is in-
cluded in this study as some studies involv-
ing the elderly typically measure accept-
ance under the influence of different social
iCat behaviors. Therefore the iCat strongly
relates to social interaction between the eld-
erly and robots as well.
PeArl
Of the four most-cited and studied robots,
Pearl is targeted most heavily on functional
assistance. Pearl is the second generation
of nursebots developed by Carnegie Mel-
lon University (Figure 2b)7,16 . It is a mobile
robot that can help the elderly to navigate
through the nursing facility. It does have a
user-friendly interface with a face, and can
also provide advice and cognitive support
for the elderly.
Other eldercare robots that have only briefly
been included in this review are the Care-
o-bot (Figure 2e)8 and Robocare (Figure 2c)9.
Their effects have been measured, but not
directly related to health or psychological
well-being. Finally, for the Huggable (Fig-
ure 2k)11, a good example of a companion
robot, we did not find any publications on
user studies at the time of collecting the data
for the review. Many of the health- and psy-
chological well-being-related effects on the
elderly have been found in studies with the
four devices described above (Table 1).
Methodology
The data collection process consisted of
three steps (Figure 3). First, a systematic
search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO,
The Cochrane Library databases, IEEE, ACM
libraries and finally Google Scholar was per-
formed for records through December 2007
to identify articles of all studies with actual
subjects aimed to assess the effects of assis-
tive social robots on the elderly. These da-
tabases were searched using the following
search terms: Companion robot, Aibo, Paro,
iCat, Pearl, nursebot, Care-o-bot, Homie,
Huggable and Robocare combined in all
possible ways with elderly, assistive robot-
ics, health care or health and care. This par-
ticular use of search terms ensured that no
study involving companion robots and eld-
erly was missed. Further, our use of particu-
lar robot names in combination with their
use in the area of health care ensured that
we also included all studies with robots that
are often used as companion robot, but that
do not employ this exact term in the article.
The search was restricted to publications in
English, with no limitations on dates of pub-
lication or venue. All three researchers inde-
pendently screened the initial set of results.
Studies were selected for inclusion if they ac-
tually reported studies that related assistive
social robotics to elderly people. This first
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step in the data collection process resulted in
an initial list of 229 studies (Figure 3a).
Second, this list of potentially relevant full-
text articles was reviewed by all three of
the reviewers separately according to the
main criterion for this review: the publica-
tion delivers empirical data on the effects of
assistive robotics in health care for the eld-
erly. Key criterion for inclusion was that the
study involved real elderly subjects. Since
this is a relatively new field, we preferred
a complete overview of the field and there-
fore included all study-designs in this review.
This selection process resulted in a list of 68
studies (Figure 3b).
Third, disagreements about the inclusion of
articles were resolved in a face to face dis-
cussion and a study was included in the final
list of to be reviewed publications (Figure 3c)
if two out of three researchers agreed to in-
clude it.
Subsequently, the final set of 43 studies
were reviewed with respect to the robust-
ness of evidence, the chosen study design,
the number of patients involved, the out-
come measures, the period of follow-up,
and the results.
results
In total, 43 citations were included in our re-
view (Table 1). For each study, we report on
research design, type of assistive social robot,
main outcome measures used in the study
to measure the effects of the intervention,
number of participants in the study, whether
or not the results were positive, negative or
mixed and the time period the study spanned.
We also included our main observations.
A variety of effects or functions of assistive
social robots have been studied, including (i)
increased health by decreased level of stress,
(ii) more positive mood, (iii) decreased lone-
liness, (iv) increased communication activity
with others, and (v) rethinking the past. Most
studies report positive effects (Tabl e 1). With
regards to mood, companion robots are re-
ported to increase positive mood, typically
measured using evaluation of facial expres-
sions of elderly people as well as question-
naires. Further, elderly people are reported
to become less lonely with the intervention
of companion robots as measured with lone-
liness measurement scales. With regards to
health status, companion robots are report-
ed to alleviate stress (for instance, measured
by stress hormones in urine) and increase
immune system response. Some studies re-
port a decrease on existing dementia meas-
urement scales. One study explicitly reports
that a companion robot (the My Real Baby in
this case) elicited memories about the past.
Many studies report positive findings with
regards to social ties between the elderly in
homes (measured by the frequency of con-
tact between the elderly) as well as between
the elderly and family. Typically, the com-
panion is the topic of conversation.
With regards to the perception of the com-
panion robot, narrative records present in a
large portion of these studies show that most
elderly actually report liking the robots (or
their controls, such as a pet toy).
Four patterns emerge that limit the strength
of the evidence for the positive effects re-
ported. The first pattern is that the majority of
studies are with the Aibo and Paro compan-
ion robots. This means that little has been
published on experimentation with different
forms of assistive social robots. This is inter-
esting, as it has been concluded that form
and material does matter a lot to the accept-
ance and effects of assistive social robots23,42.
Second, the majority of
the studies are done in
Japan. As it has been
shown that robot per-
ception is culturally de-
Figure 3. Flow diagram outlining the review process
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Table 1. Companion robot studies assessed; ?=unknown / not reported; Design: 1=RCT, 2=Comparative cohort, 3= Case series, 4=Narrative/opinion, 5=Other, 6=Focus group; Outcome: 1=Health
status, 2=Mood, 3=Communication, 4=Loneliness, 5=Other / design criteria, 6=Rethinking the past; Result: +=positive, ±=undetermined, -=no effect, Ref: Reference
Companion n Design Outcome Result Term Ref Remarks
Aibo ? 3 3 ± 5 min 19 Both Aibo and toy-dog increased activity in demented patients; Aibo not perceived as puppy-dog
46 3 5 + several hrs 29 Study in clinic waiting room; exact measure unclear from abstract
? ? ? ? ? 30 Overview article
3 3 1,5 + 20x 31 20 sessions; decreased stress and loneliness; confounding factors not clear
5 3 1,3,4,5 + 20x in 7 wks 32 20 sessions; confounding factors not clear
10,12 6 5 ? ? 33 Finding companion robot design criteria
23 3 1 + 2 months 34 Positive immune system response; Aibo use unclear; causality not attributable
8 3 3,5 + 30 min 35 No control; no statistics
15 3? 1 + ? 36 No control; study design unclear
Aibo, My real baby 2 3 5,6 + several months 37 Robot pet acceptance depends on form and behavior; social interaction increased for My real baby
Care-o-bot 6 3 5 + ? 8 Results with walking aid robot and grabber; elderly can work with robot
Homie 2 3 3,5 + ? 39 Ideas about design
iCat 40 2 5 ± minutes 25 Robot acceptance and design guidelines
40 2 5 ± minutes 26 Robot acceptance and design guidelines
40 2 5 ± minutes 27 Robot acceptance and design guidelines
40 2 5 ± minutes 28 Conversational behavior
6 6 5 ± < 1hr 38 Interface design guidelines
Paro 4,3,9 3 1,2 + 3 wks 1hr 4 days/wk 10 No effect on immune system (n=4); Paro (n=3) and fake (n=9) decreased depression
12 3 1,3 + 1 mnth 9 hrs/day 14 Participants played without caregivers or researchers intervening; control not clear
12,11 3 1 - 3 wks 1hr 4 days/wk 18 Less demented (n=12): less active Paro: increased stress; demented (n=11): active Paro: no effect
7,11,12,9 3 2 + 3 wks 1hr 4 days/wk 20 Happier with real Paro (n=7) than fake (n=11); continued to like fake (n=12) better than real Paro (n=9)
4,7,11 3 1,2 + 3 wks 21,22
Emotion change and familiarity correlated(n=4); same interest for fake(n=11) and real Paro (n=7)
18 2 3 + 20 min 23 Form influences expectations; acceptance important; less active Paro: fewer reactions
5 3 3 ? 1 month 2x wk 40 Demented started talking about and to Paro; no control group; no clear effect measure
12,11 3 2 ± 3 wks 1hr 4 days/wk 41 As 18; different effect measure; no statistics; no difference between Paro and fake Paro
23 2 2,3 + 4 months 42 Paro-on: more lively communication; no statistics; My real baby calms down residents, but is often a
care burden
1 3 3 + once 43 Introduced by therapist; demented patient accepted Paro and talked about it
20 3 1 6 wks 44 Lower stress level
11 3 2 ± 3 wks 20 min 1-3x/wk
45,46
Vigour (item on mood scale) bettered after intervention; no control group
10 3 1 + 14 wks 47 No effect on dementia scale; no control; degree of involvement of researcher unclear
12,11 3 2 + 5 wks 20 min 1-3x/wk
48,49
Mediated intervention; measured before and after; increase in mood and emotion faces test
23 3 2 + 1 yr 50 Longer term study; 8 subjects; statistical power & researchers interaction unclear
? 3 3 ? 1 yr 51 As 50, plus: silent Paro provokes less utterances than normal Paro
14 3 5 + 20 min 52 Strong intervention; dubious interpretation of cortical neuron activation; short term effect
8 3 2 + 17 months 53 Long term study; no new insights in addition to other work by same group
14 3 2 + 10 wks 54
11 3 1,3 ? 1 month 9hrs/day 55 Participants played without caregivers intervening; no control; social network increased; stress
hormone indicated better immune system
Pearl 6 3 5 + 5 days 16,56
Robot guidance, not companionship
Robocare 123 ? 5 ? ? 24 Evaluation of robot perception amongst elderly
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pendent17 results should therefore not be
generalized too easily to other cultures.
Third, practically all of the studies are done
with elderly people in nursery homes, not
with elderly people still living in their own
house, even though there is a growing
number of elderly people that get support in
their own home. We do not know if the ef-
fects of social assistive robots are the same
in these two cases.
Fourth, and most importantly, the research
methods used to derive effects are not ro-
bust from a methodological point of view.
Good control conditions are rare. When
present, the results are often difficult to in-
terpret because the control condition, such
as a fake Paro, has an effect that is similar
to the effect of the experimental condition,
or because the number of participants is
too small to conclude much.10,18 ,22. Some
studies are even contradictory in terms of
their outcome18, 23. Also, many studies are
not long-term enough to exclude novelty
effects. Further, the exact way of interact-
ing with the elderly is often not described in
enough detail to make it possible to repeat
the study. Therefore, we should be careful
to conclude that the cause of any effect is
really due to the robot, since a Hawthorne
effect (a temporary change to behavior in
response to a change in the environment)
can not be excluded in several studies. No-
table exceptions to this are recent studies
by Kidd et al.42 and Wada and Shibata14
where participants could play with the ro-
bot without intervention by the researchers.
Other exceptions to this are studies that in-
vestigate robot acceptance and design cri-
teria that include a larger number of partici-
pants and generally allow subjects to play
with the robot by themselves without inter-
vention of the researchers24-29. However, it
should be noted that this latter type of re-
search is aimed at extracting requirements
for robot design and understanding robot
acceptance and as such does not focus on
physical and mental health as treatment ef-
fects of robots.
ConClusion
Many different studies report positive re-
actions of the elderly to assistive social ro-
bots. As a wide variety of research designs
has been used, and many of these studies
indicate a positive effect of companion ro-
bots on the elderly, we conclude that there
is some evidence that companion type ro-
bots have positive effects in health care for
the elderly with respect to at least mood,
loneliness and social connections with oth-
ers. However, the strength of this evidence
is limited, since (i) most studies have been
done in Japan, with (ii) a limited set of com-
panion robots, i.e., Aibo and Paro, and (iii)
research designs are not robust enough, usu-
ally not described in enough detail to repeat,
and confounding causal variables cannot be
excluded. However, as several studies men-
tion subjective reports from elderly people
indicating that they like the companion ro-
bots, we conclude that it is worth-while to
invest in research methods that are able to
attribute the causality of the beneficial ef-
fects to the robot as well as invest in robust,
large-scale cross-cultural studies to better
establish the effects of these devices.
Future reseArCh
Given the large number of studies that show
positive effects of either the robot or its
placebo version, such as a non-functional
robot or a pet toy, we believe this type of
devices hasmerits in elder care. Further, and
of importance, the elderly seem to be open
to this kind of technology25-28 .
We consider it necessary to address the
methodological problems, or at the very
least vagueness regarding methodology of-
ten encountered in these studies. It is a lit-
tle unfair to judge so harsh these studies, as
they attempt to do something quite difficult
and novel: experiment with a novel form of
treatment in a real life situation without hav-
ing the benefit of being able to set up rand-
omized blind trials, as the placebo version of
the robot is also perceptually different. This
is obviously not the case with drug-research,
for example. However, we surely think that
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several of the experimental design issues
need to, and can be improved.
First, it is absolutely necessary to have a
control group that is not in contact with the
experimental group. Secondly, researchers
need to start replicating results of each oth-
er, and for this to be possible they need to
have access to the methods used, the same
control conditions and preferably the same
robots. This implies that all studies should
describe their research design and methods
clearly and in such a way that the research
can be completely repeated somewhere
else. Third, studies must be long-term. The
novelty value of something that enters the
life of an elderly person may take some time
to wear off. Fourth, many studies attempt to
derive statistically significant results from far
too small a number of subjects. This is prob-
lematic, because of sample group selection
bias and lack of statistical power.
In summary, we need large-scale experi-
ments that are rigorously set up, and an ad-
equate methodology by which these stud-
ies are done and compared to each other.
Further, we need more variation in the form
and function of these robots to figure out
what parts actually contribute to the benefi-
cial effects. Setting up a large scale, inter-
national (for instance, EU-based) program
to establish the merits of these, and related,
devices could be of great importance for the
elderly as well as for health care in general.
Acknowledgement
Part of this work has been conducted while
the first author worked as a researcher at the
Telematica Instituut, Enschede, the Netherlands.
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... While 2013 the global demand-based shortage of healthcare-workers was at 6.5 million, experts expect the shortage to increase by more than twice the number by 2030 [1]. To alleviate this gap, the deployment of assistive social robots is intended, especially in elderly care [2][3][4] These assistive social robots can be divided in companion type or service type robots [3]. Companion robots focus on providing socio-emotional support or promoting physical exercises [5,6], e.g., the pet robot PARO [7], AIBO [8], iCAT [9], or NAO [10]. ...
... While 2013 the global demand-based shortage of healthcare-workers was at 6.5 million, experts expect the shortage to increase by more than twice the number by 2030 [1]. To alleviate this gap, the deployment of assistive social robots is intended, especially in elderly care [2][3][4] These assistive social robots can be divided in companion type or service type robots [3]. Companion robots focus on providing socio-emotional support or promoting physical exercises [5,6], e.g., the pet robot PARO [7], AIBO [8], iCAT [9], or NAO [10]. ...
... The experiment carried out to test the hypotheses is presented in Sect. 3. Then, Sect. 4 describes the results which are discussed in Sect. 5. Finally, Sect. ...
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... The SARs can be divided into service robots and companion robots [26]. A significant application of service robots is daily life assistance such as eating, health monitoring, reminding and safety [38,39]. Mobile service robots have a high potential to support daily routines due to a wide variety of capabilities, such as delivering objects, human or object detection, cognition training, entertainment, etc. [40][41][42]. ...
... A common issue in many field studies relates to their short-term HRI [38,170]. Ideally, studies must be long-term in an actual deployment environment to investigate sufficiently the impact of mobile service robots and repeated interactions on OAs' lives. ...
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Global demographics trend toward an aging population. Hence, there will be an increased social demand for elderly care. Recently, assistive technologies such as service robots have emerged and can help older adults to live independently. This paper reports a review starting from 1999 of the existing mobile service robots used for older adults to grow old at home. We describe each robot from the viewpoint of applications, platforms, and empirical studies. Studies reported that mobile social robots could assist older adults throughout their daily activities such as reminding, household tasks, safety, or health monitoring. Moreover, some of the reported studies indicate that mobile service robots can enhance the well-being of older adults and decrease the workload for their caregivers.
... The social robot Paro, for example, is a great help when dealing with patients with dementia [3,4], and the human-like robot Pepper when entertaining patients [5]. Additionally, service robots support caregivers in functional tasks [6,7]. According to the International Standardization Organization, a service robot is defined as a robot "that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications" [8]. ...
... It is therefore a valid tool to investigate HRI-related questions. Although most studies either investigate HRI in an industrial context [28,31] or with social robots [3,4,6], the use of service robots in healthcare is a new field that is just starting to be increasingly researched [7]. With our study, we aimed to address this research gap. ...
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Robots are increasingly used in healthcare to support caregivers in their daily work routines. To ensure an effortless and easy interaction between caregivers and robots, communication via natural language is expected from robots. However, robotic speech bears a large potential for technical failures, which includes processing and communication failures. It is therefore necessary to investigate how caregivers perceive and respond to robots with erroneous communication. We recruited thirty caregivers, who interacted in a virtual reality setting with a robot. It was investigated whether different kinds of failures are more likely to be forgiven with technical or human-like justifications. Furthermore, we determined how tolerant caregivers are with a robot constantly returning a process failure and whether this depends on the robot’s response pattern (constant vs. variable). Participants showed the same forgiveness towards the two justifications. However, females liked the human-like justification more and males liked the technical justification more. Providing justifications with any reasonable content seems sufficient to achieve positive effects. Robots with a constant response pattern were liked more, although both patterns achieved the same tolerance threshold from caregivers, which was around seven failed requests. Due to the experimental setup, the tolerance for communication failures was probably increased and should be adjusted in real-life situations.
... The interaction with humans through speech commands or natural language is the main task of social robots, with which the humans feel comfortable relating and empathizing (Breazeal, 2002;Maxwell, 2007). Popular applications of social robots include museum guide (Vásquez & Matía, 2020), nurse (Ramachandran & Lim, 2021), autism treatment (Pennisi et al., 2016) and elderly care (Broekens et al., 2009). ...
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Nowadays advanced machine learning, computer vision, audio analysis and natural language understanding systems can be widely used for improving the perceptive and reasoning capabilities of the social robots. In particular, artificial intelligence algorithms for speaker re-identification make the robot aware of its interlocutor and able to personalize the conversation according to the information gathered in real-time and in the past interactions with the speaker. Anyway, this kind of application requires to train neural networks having available only a few samples for each speaker. Within this context, in this paper we propose a social robot equipped with a microphone sensor and a smart deep learning algorithm for few-shot speaker re-identification, able to run in real time over an embedded platform mounted on board of the robot. The proposed system has been experimentally evaluated over the VoxCeleb1 dataset, demonstrating a remarkable re-identification accuracy by varying the number of samples per speaker, the number of known speakers and the duration of the samples, and over the SpReW dataset, showing its robustness in real noisy environments. Finally, a quantitative evaluation of the processing time over the embedded platform proves that the processing pipeline is almost immediate, resulting in a pleasant user experience.
... Similar to Riley and Spencer, there are several family and professional caregivers who are overburdened and experience mental stress and declining quality of life [2]- [4]. Robots have the potential to provide assistance with ADLs [5] and empower people with disabilities by enhancing their independence [6], while also reducing caregiver burden. ...
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Existing work in physical robot caregiving is limited in its ability to provide long-term assistance. This is majorly due to (i) lack of well-defined problems, (ii) diversity of tasks, and (iii) limited access to stakeholders from the caregiving community. We propose Structuring Physically Assistive Robotics for Caregiving with Stakeholders-in-the-loop (SPARCS) to address these challenges. SPARCS is a framework for physical robot caregiving comprising (i) Building Blocks, models that define physical robot caregiving scenarios, (ii) Structured Workflows, hierarchical workflows that enable us to answer the Whats and Hows of physical robot caregiving, and (iii) SPARCS-Box, a web-based platform to facilitate dialogue between all stakeholders. We collect clinical data for six care recipients with varying disabilities and demonstrate the use of SPARCS in designing well-defined caregiving scenarios and identifying their care requirements. All the data and workflows are available on SPARCS-Box. We demonstrate the utility of SPARCS in building a robot-assisted feeding system for one of the care recipients. We also perform experiments to show the adaptability of this system to different caregiving scenarios. Finally, we identify open challenges in physical robot caregiving by consulting care recipients and caregivers. Supplementary material can be found at https://emprise.cs.cornell.edu/sparcs/.
... According to a survey in 2014 [1], 27.2% of people living in the United States had a disability, and 24.2 million people aged 18 or older required assistance with activities of daily living. Caregiving robots have the potential to provide assistance to enhance or prolong independence [2] while reducing caregiving burden [3]. However, building safe and meaningful robotic solutions for caregiving is challenging. ...
Preprint
We present RCareWorld, a human-centric simulation world for physical and social robotic caregiving designed with inputs from stakeholders, including care recipients, caregivers, occupational therapists, and roboticists. RCareWorld has realistic human models of care recipients with mobility limitations and caregivers, home environments with multiple levels of accessibility and assistive devices, and robots commonly used for caregiving. It interfaces with various physics engines to model diverse material types necessary for simulating caregiving scenarios, and provides the capability to plan, control, and learn both human and robot control policies by integrating with state-of-the-art external planning and learning libraries, and VR devices. We propose a set of realistic caregiving tasks in RCareWorld as a benchmark for physical robotic caregiving and provide baseline control policies for them. We illustrate the high-fidelity simulation capabilities of RCareWorld by demonstrating the execution of a policy learnt in simulation for one of these tasks on a real-world setup. Additionally, we perform a real-world social robotic caregiving experiment using behaviors modeled in RCareWorld. Robotic caregiving, though potentially impactful towards enhancing the quality of life of care recipients and caregivers, is a field with many barriers to entry due to its interdisciplinary facets. RCareWorld takes the first step towards building a realistic simulation world for robotic caregiving that would enable researchers worldwide to contribute to this impactful field. Demo videos and supplementary materials can be found at: https://emprise.cs.cornell.edu/rcareworld/.
... With robots becoming more common in people's everyday lives, the field of humanrobot interaction (HRI) has been rapidly expanding [1][2][3]. In particular, socially assistive robots (SARs) have been developed to help address many societal challenges such as an aging population and the increased demand for healthcare [4][5][6]. Namely, SARs have been developed to aid with activities of daily living (ADLs) including meal preparation and eating [7][8][9], clothing recommendation and dressing [10], monitoring [11][12][13], reminders [14][15][16], rehabilitation [17][18][19], and social behavioral interventions for children living with autism [20][21][22]. ...
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More and more real-world applications, especially in cognitive robotics, require the running of different computer vision algorithms in parallel on board of embedded devices with limited GPU and memory resources. Multi-task learning, namely the usage of the same model to perform multiple classification and/or regression tasks by learning a shared low level representation, revealed to be a valid solution to reduce computation and required memory space while preserving the accuracy. In this paper, we propose a solution for real-time user profiling based on a multi-task convolutional neural network (CNN) for gender, age, ethnicity and emotion recognition from face images. To find the best trade-off between accuracy and processing time, we evaluate three different architectures, specifically designed for the purpose, and backbones, based on MobileNet, ResNet and SENet, which include convolutional layers, residual blocks and attention modules that already demonstrated great potential in face analysis. We trained the multi-task neural network with a custom learning procedure, which solves the problems of missing labels, dataset imbalance and loss function imbalance through label masking, batch balancing and a custom weighted loss function; there are no other multi-task neural networks for face analysis that address all these challenges simultaneously.. The proposed solution demonstrated its effectiveness in the comparison with the corresponding single-task CNNs in terms of accuracy, processing time and memory space; in fact, the multi-task CNNs achieved a processing speed-up between 2.5 and 4 times and a reduction of the memory space between 2 and 4 times, while preserving the accuracy. Moreover, the useful insights that arise from the experiments allow to choose a solution for face analysis easily integrable into real applications on smart cameras and embedded systems and most suited for the specific application constraints in terms of computational resources.
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Se progresso ha per sinonimo Intelligenza Artificiale, il simbolo che ne incarna la dimensione verso cui si sta rivolgendo un crescente interesse, specialmente nell'ambito di assistenza e cura della persona, è certamente quello rappresentato dalla robotica sociale. Come diretta conseguenza di molteplici fattori socio-demografici, tra i quali l'incremento globale della popolazione anziana, la necessità di arricchire gli strumenti assistenziali ad essa rivolti e gli avanzamenti crescenti in ambito tecnologico, la ricerca in materia ha subito negli ultimi anni un notevole incremento che la pandemia da Covid-19 non ha fatto che accelerare ulteriormente. È all'interno di tale contesto di interesse che il presente articolo mira a sollevare delle riflessioni riguardanti il contributo della robotica sociale, e più in particolare di quella assistiva, rivolta alla persona anziana. A tale scopo verrà proposta una panoramica sulle più recenti applicazioni che tale tecnologia trova allo stato attuale, proponendosi sia come potenziale strumento aggiuntivo al trattamento di patologie psichiatriche e neurodegenerative, sia come opportunità a supporto dell'autonomia dell'utente assecondando il principio dello smart living. In conclusione verranno presentate e discusse le potenziali implicazioni psicologico-relazionali della robotica sociale e dell'affettività simulata a partire dall'analisi della self-deception individuale.
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