In the near future, the amount of elderly in need of care will outgrow the number of available healthcare professionals. In order to support healthcare professionals and those receiving care, social robots are becoming increasingly important. However, to be able to humanize healthcare, technology also needs to be humanized. These social robots are interactive, intelligent agents (digital or physical) that are capable of simulating human-like social behavior.
One of the applications of social robots is enabling the elderly to live independently at home even if they have physical or cognitive disabilities. Good communication between an elder and a social robot is very important for the successful application of this technology. For this purpose, the social robot will be equipped with a camera and software capable of recognizing the emotions of the elder using the FaceReader technology of VicarVision.
The question is if and when the social robot should communicate emotions to the elder, and how this is dependent on task, context, and user preferences. The second question is how FaceReader technology can contribute to this communication between user and technology.
Goal of the Assignment
The goal of the graduation assignment is to identify appropriate functionality (e.g., having a conversation, reminding to exercise) for such a social robot in the healthcare domain. The second, more important goal is to explore and finds ways how to design the interaction between social robot and elderly for this functionality.
An important aspect is that the social robot is able to receive input from FaceReader, which analyzes the emotions of the elder.
Currently, social robots are designed form a technical perspective, not from the user’s perspective. Therefore, the focus of the assignment is on the exploration of interaction design between the social robot and the elderly user at a conceptual level, using the added value of FaceReader.
Q.bo One, an open source social robot that uses a combination of Raspberry Pi and Arduino, is available at VicarVision for implementation and experimentation as part of this project.
VicarVision develops state of the art computer vision solutions and specializes in perceiving people from video. In 2007, VicarVision introduced FaceReader, the first commercially available tool capable of evaluating facial expressions in real time. FaceReader is distributed worldwide and is now in use in over 1000 organizations in the world.