Home Care Robot Makes Landfall in Testing Case

A new robotic home care system—part of a European Union-funded communications technology project—will soon be used to monitor seniors in their homes after being tested in a demo apartment in Sweden.

GiraffPlus, an international project led by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden, is meant to facilitate a safer and healthier old age by creating a means for aging-in-place users and their caregivers to communicate with each other.

The system is getting installed in the homes of two different users in Örebro, and three more homes will be added in the fall. The researchers plan to introduce the technology in the same way in Malaga and Rome for a total of 15 different homes in three countries, according to Anette Forsberg, who is overseeing the primary healthcare aspects of the project.

Features of the GiraffPlus system include sensors that can collect data from patients, including body temperature, blood pressure, and movement. It can also track movements and identify abnormal behavior patterns, including falls.

Data collected by the sensors is analyzed by an intelligent system when can then quickly alert caregivers in case of emergency. That information can also be used to make long-term assessments of a user’s health.

The heart of the system, researchers say, is the remote controlled mobile robot, which is equipped with a display screen and a loudspeaker and is known as ‘Giraff.’ Through the robot, caregivers can “visit” patients to discuss and plan care measures based on info ration that has been registered through the smart sensor system. 

“The system is designed to be able to, for instance, chart an individual’s sleeping pattern,”  says Professor Silvia Coradeschi at the robotics research centre AASS at Örebro University, who is coordinating the project. “By measuring the level of activity in the apartment during the night, the system helps both the patient and the caregiver to form a picture of the situation and adequate measures can be introduced.”

The system’s long-term evaluation abilities and user interaction are a few of the factors that make the project unique, Coradeschi adds.

During the testing phase, Forsberg and a primary care physician will be using Giraff to pay virtual visits to users based on their needs.

“In the future, we hope that this model will serve as a good complement to traditional methods as well as provide patients with a choice for their health visits,” she says. “Some people prefer a visit to the health centre or the hospital, whereas others would rather not make that journey. We are all different.” 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace

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