AI News, The robot that could revolutionise home care for elderly people

The robot that could revolutionise home care for elderly people

My colleagues and I have just unveiled a prototype care robot that we hope could take on some of the more mundane work of looking after elderly and disabled people and those with conditions such as dementia.

The robot could also do things humans don’t have time to do now, like keeping a constant check on whether someone is safe and well, while allowing them to keep their privacy.

READ MORE Shearer urges more money to be spent on football's dementia link Stevie can perform some of its jobs autonomously, for example reminding users to take medication.

For example, if a room sensor detects a user may have fallen over, a human operator can take control of the robot, use it to investigate the event and contact the emergency services if necessary.

Stevie can also regulate room temperatures and light levels, tasks that help to keep the occupant comfortable and reduce possible fall hazards.

READ MORE Loss of sense of smell in later life linked to dementia 99% of advanced dementia sufferers 'not getting specialist care' Prince Henrik of Denmark diagnosed with dementia Stevie would provide benefits to carers as well as elderly or disabled users.

The job of a professional care assistant is incredibly demanding, often involving long, unsocial hours in workplaces that are frequently understaffed.

And there is already a range of affordable smart technology that can help people by controlling appliances with voice commands or notifying caregivers in the event of a fall or accident.

We built a robot care assistant for people with dementia – here's how it works

My colleagues and I have just unveiled a prototype care robot that we hope could take on some of the more mundane work of looking after elderly and disabled people and those with conditions such as dementia.

Stevie the wonder robot brings 21st-century touch to helping elderly

In a simulated voice that sounds a bit like the English actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, it declared: “I can also perform security patrols and notify an emergency contact if something seems wrong.” Stevie is the first prototype robot designed to work in assisted care facilities and help the elderly and people living with disability in Ireland.

Our solution can perform several routine tasks, which will improve efficiency and substantially alleviate pressure on care staff during periods when the facility may be understaffed.” The multidisciplinary team that created Stevie consulted with a wide range of experts during the robot’s development, including nurses and caregivers as well as elderly patients living in assisted care facilities.

“Through collaboration with organisations like Alone, we have been able to get a better understanding of the challenges people face as they get older and get valuable user feedback on many aspects of the system.” The team aims to have the robot market-ready by 2021.

‘A cute little fecker’: Trinity’s Stevie the robot helps older people

Robots are already used to build cars and wait tables, and now a team of Irish designers are developing a prototype which can attend to the social care needs of older people.

Such applications may be useful for providing companionship among an often isolated cohort as the population ages, and can help to assuage more acute fears such as the risk of falls, medication errors or carbon monoxide poisoning according to project leader Prof Conor McGinn.

‘A cute little fecker’ At the demonstration, a pensioner was enlisted to interact with the robot through a number of scenarios such as a user forgetting to take their medication, failing to wake up, and having a video call with a family member.

I can see people I know that would like to use that technology.” Far from concerns about artificially intelligent beings developing minds of their own, Stevie remains at an early stage of development with key functions of speech and movement still largely controlled by his human masters.

On the issue of costs, he acknowledges that such a solution may be beyond the financial reach of individual customers but is hopeful that hospitals and nursing homes in the first instance will be interested in investing the technology for use between larger groups of patients.

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