Attitudes Towards Socially Assistive Robots in Intelligent Homes: Results From Laboratory Studies and Field Trials

Elena Torta, Johannes Oberzaucher, Franz Werner, Raymond H. Cuijpers, James F. Juola

Abstract


The near future will see an increasing demand of elder care and a shortage of professional and infor- mal caregivers. In this context, ageing societies would benefit from the design of intelligent homes that provide assistance. The choice of interfaces between the assistive environment and the user is of great importance and determines the degree of user acceptance of this technology. Socially assistive robots are one of the most promising interfaces. Their embodiment and multimodal communication channels could potentially provide a large number of services that otherwise would have to be carried out by a variety of dedicated systems. Furthermore, evidence suggests that people perceive robots more as companions and social actors than tools and this is likely to steer user acceptance positively. This paper presents the authors’ work related to the EU-FP7 project KSERA, a project that aims at introducing a socially assistive robot that acts as a proactive communication interface in smart home environments. In particular, it gives an overview of (1) human–robot interaction studies conducted in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) whose general aim was to preliminary assess the added value of socially assistive robots in intelligent homes and (2) the KSERA project field trials in Schwechat (Vienna) and Tel Aviv (Israel) that tested an integrated smart-home/robot system with real end users (N=16) in three real-world scenarios. Overall, results show that socially assistive robots positively affect user experience and motivation compared to standard smart environment interfaces such as touch screens. However, people still tend to prefer conventional interfaces for receiving information.

Keywords


Assistive Robotics; Human-robot interaction; smart homes; sensors; proxemics ; attention; field trials; Ambient Assisted Living AAL; COPD

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