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CNR: Alamanacco della Scienza


N. 6 - 30 mar 2011
ISSN 2037-4801

International info   a cura di Cecilia Migali


A robot will help old people  

The European project ExCite, in which the Cnr-Institute for Cognitive Science and Technology (Istc) is involved, will adapt a robotic platform to support elderly participation in social life. Indeed the sense of isolation associated with increasing age is a very relevant issue for elderly people. Retirement, living far from family members as well as reduced physical ability may limit the capacity of an old person to be socially engaged which in turn may augment the risk of occurrence of specific diseases such as cognitive deficits. The challenge of ExCite is to carry out a set of fielded experiments with old people in their living environment exploring the ability of the robot to reduce the sense of social isolation by bridging distances, facilitating interaction and communication. It spans over Sweden, Italy and Spain.

The project reference platform is the mobile presence robot called Giraff. The robot is a remotely controllable mobile, human-height, physical avatar integrated with a videoconferencing system (including a camera, display, speaker and microphone). The Giraff is accessed and controlled via a standard computer/laptop over the Internet, using an application, called 'the pilot', downloadable for free. From a remote location a person with quite limited computer training can 'visit' a home and intuitively navigate the Giraff in the environment. 

The Planning and Scheduling Team at Cnr-Istc is responsible for the design and implementation of the fielded experiments. Qualitative and quantitative research techniques have been selected for the assessment of attitudes and individual perceptions of Giraff. The research aims on one hand at evaluating the usability of the interface from the pilot side as well as other involved aspects and on the other side end-user acceptance, improvement of social isolation/loneliness, perceived usefulness, enjoinment and engagement are considered.

Partners of the project are Örebro University (coordinator), University of Malaga and Cnr as research centers, Giraff AB (the robot manufacturers), and RatioConsulta SpA (a software company) as industrial partners, the Örebro City Council as end-user representative.


Fonte: Lorenza Tiberio, Istituto di scienze e tecnologie della cognizione, Roma, email lorenza.tiberio@istc.cnr.it

Fonte: Amedeo Cesta, Istituto di scienze e tecnologie della cognizione, Roma, email amedeo.cesta@istc.cnr.it