Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Robots Can Provide Elder Care For Aging Baby Boomers

Date:
April 21, 2008
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Over 77 million baby boomers will retire in the next 30 years, and robots are ready to assist with elder care. Engineers have created a robotic assistant that can recognize medical emergencies and call 911, remind clients to take their medication, help with grocery shopping and cleaning and allow retirees to communicate with loved ones.

A frontal view of the uBot5.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts Amherst

Baby boomers are set to retire, and robots are ready to help, providing elder care and improving the quality of life for those in need. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a robotic assistant that can dial 911 in case of emergencies, remind clients to take their medication, help with grocery shopping and allow a client to talk to loved ones and health care providers.

Concerned family members can access the unit and visit their elderly parents from any Internet connection, including navigating around the home and looking for Mom or Dad, who may not hear the ringing phone or may be in need of assistance. Doctors can perform virtual house calls, reducing the need for travel.

“For the first time, robots are safe enough and inexpensive enough to do meaningful work in a residential environment,” says computer scientist Rod Grupen, director of UMass Amherst’s Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics, who developed project ASSIST with computer scientists Allen Hanson and Edward Riseman.

The robot, called the uBOT-5, could allow elders to live independently, and provide relief for caregivers, the medical system and community services, which are expected to be severely stressed by the retirement of over 77 million Americans in the next 30 years.

There is no mistaking the uBot-5 for a person, but its design was inspired by human anatomy. An array of sensors acts as the robots eyes and ears, allowing it to recognize human activities, such as walking or sitting. It can also recognize an abnormal visual event, such as a fall, and notify a remote medical caregiver. Through an interface, the remote service provider may ask the client to speak, smile or raise both arms, movements that the robot can demonstrate. If the person is unresponsive, the robot can call 911, alert family and apply a digital stethoscope to a patient, conveying information to an emergency medical technician who is en route.

The system also tracks what isn’t human. If a delivery person leaves a package in a hallway, the sensor array is trained to notice when a path is blocked, and the robot can move the obstruction out of the way. It can also raise its outstretched arms, carry a load of about 2.2 pounds and has the potential to perform household tasks that require a fair amount of dexterity, including cleaning and grocery shopping.

The uBOT-5 carries a Web cam, a microphone, and a touch-sensitive LCD display that acts as an interface for communication with the outside world. “Grandma can take the robot’s hand, lead it out into the garden and have a virtual visit with a grandchild who is living on the opposite coast,” says Grupen, who notes that isolation can lead to depression in the elderly.

Grupen studied developmental neurology in his quest to create a robot that could do a variety of tasks in different environments. The uBot-5’s arm motors are analogous to the muscles and joints in our own arms, and it can push itself up to a vertical position if it falls over. It has a “spinal cord” and the equivalent of an inner ear to keep it balanced on its Segway-like wheels.

The researchers wanted to create a personal robot that could provide many services, such as a medical alert system, or the means to talk to loved ones, all in one human-like package, according to Grupen. To evaluate the effectiveness of potential technologies, the research team worked with social workers, members of the medical community and family members of those in elder care.

The collaborative effort, dubbed project ASSIST, involved researchers from the Smith College School for Social Work, the Veteran’s Administration (Connecticut Health Care System, West Haven campus) and elder care community centers in western Massachusetts. Through focus groups, the researchers learned about the preferences of potential users.

Graduate students Patrick Deegan, Emily Horrell, Shichao Ou, Sharaj Sen, Brian Thibodeau, Adam Williams and Dan Xie are also collaborators on project ASSIST.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "New Robots Can Provide Elder Care For Aging Baby Boomers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416212725.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2008, April 21). New Robots Can Provide Elder Care For Aging Baby Boomers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416212725.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "New Robots Can Provide Elder Care For Aging Baby Boomers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416212725.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

Hackerspace Provides Hackers Creative Haven

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) HeatSync Labs, a so-called hackerspace in Mesa, Arizona provides members and the public alike a space to allow their creative juices to flow and make their tech dreams into a reality. (Aug 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why A 12.9-Inch iPad Would Make Sense For Apple

Why A 12.9-Inch iPad Would Make Sense For Apple

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) There are two big knocks against the iPad — productivity limits and slumping sales. Here's how a bigger iPad could fix both of Apple's problems. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Instagram's Hyperlapse Brings Pricy Stabilization To Phones

Instagram's Hyperlapse Brings Pricy Stabilization To Phones

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Instagram announced a new video stabilization app called Hyperlapse on Tuesday, bringing a high-end filming technique to peoples' iPhones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins