Assisted living robot shines at research showcase

News from Thunder Bay, Ontario:

The number of people aged 65 and older is increasing and researchers are looking at new ways to ensure proper care will be provided, and not necessarily by humans, but robots.  “Very soon every fourth person will be 65 and above, so that will mean we will not have enough younger people to care for the elderly,” said Arshia Khan, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota. “So how do we provide care? That’s how the robots will come in handy. We are not saying to replace human beings. It’s just augmenting the care.”  Khan, along with the robot Pepper, were part of a research showcase at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON, on Sunday highlighting some of the work being done in kinesiology, bio-technology, and computer science.  “We are trying to demonstrate some of the research we do in relation to concussion research, what computer science does in terms of robotics, and bio-technology in relation to concussions and bio chemistry,” said Carlos Zerpa, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology at Lakehead University. Zerpa said it’s important to showcase the research being done with not only the public, but also other researchers to allow for more collaboration.  The team from Minnesota was invited to demonstrate the robot, Pepper, which Zerpa said has allowed Lakehead to establish a link with their research for future opportunities.  According to Khan, Pepper has been in development for a year and a half and during the showcase she was predicting a person’s age using facial recognition.  But Pepper is meant to serve a much greater purpose. She is being programmed and designed to assist elderly people living with dementia.  “The idea is she will be a life long companion,” Khan said. “As soon as the person is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, we send her off with them. As the diseases progresses slowly, they start to forget their daily activities and that’s when she will learn their activities and assist them.”

Source/more:  Thunder Bay News Watch