Design and Implementation of a Novel Conversational Companion Robot For Older Adults
Social robots can help people with a variety of problems in everyday life. One of the issues that have been explored in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) is using social robots as companions, or to help with issues such as loneliness. Loneliness is a problem seen extensively in older adults, especially those who live alone as they have reduced social interaction. We investigate the use of a humanoid social service robot that can be used for conversation. Through iterative prototyping, we designed and developed a robotic behaviour to support individual self-reflection and wellness. We proceeded to then implement it as a stand-alone conversational social robot using Softbank’s humanoid robot NAO. Our approach relies on simple interaction design to avoid high robotic expectations and achieve a robust reflective behaviour.
To learn about our behaviour’s feasibility, what people thought of it, and if people wanted to use it, we conducted a study where we deployed our novel behaviour using our stand-alone offline conversational robot. We deployed our robot completely unsupervised and unmonitored for two nights into the homes of 14 older adults 65 and over. This study showed that most participants engaged with, and reported enjoying using the robot; based on participant’s feedback, our simple behaviour was able to successfully aid more than half of our participants to engage in self-reflection.
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Adriana Lorena González. Design and Implementation of a Novel Conversational Companion Robot For Older Adults. MSc Thesis (2022). University of Manitoba, Canada.