In Europe, Robots Care for Aging Population

In Europe, Robots Care for Aging Population

giraffplusA new trial, funded by the European Union, known as the GiraffPlus project has outfitted six elderly Europeans with Robots. Some participants have named theirs, such as 93-year old Nonna Lea, who affectionately calls her robot Mr. Robin. The coordinator of the GiraffPlus project, Amy Loutfi, notes that robots are just the beginning of this care system, which also sensors throughout the home to monitor and care for the elderly and allow them to live independently.

In addition to the robot, there are sensors to track the movement from room to room, as well as pressure sensors in chairs, couches and beds to determine how much the participant is sitting and sleeping. The sensors also keep track of the environment in the home, such as when windows are open or closed and what the temperature and humidity level is inside the house. Finally, there are devices that keep track of blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.

The robot’s role is to provide social interaction through telepresence, and is described by Loutfi as “basically the equivalent of Skype on wheels.” When a user calls in to the robot they can be seen on a screen on the robot’s “face,” and can move the robot around the house. All of this technology has already been available, but the GiraffPlus project is combining it in a comprehensive way to achieve the goal of assisted independent living with the highest standard of care for the aged.