Regenerative and Technological Section / Viewpoint
Towards a Future Robotic Home Environment: A SurveyGüttler J. · Georgoulas C. · Linner T. · Bock T.
Building Realization and Robotics Lab, Department of Architecture, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany
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Article / Publication Details
Purpose: Demographic change has resulted in an increase of elderly people, while at the same time the number of active working people is falling. In the future, there will be less caretaking, which is necessary to support the aging population. In order to enable the aged population to live in dignity, they should be able to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) as independently as possible. The aim of this paper is to describe several solutions and concepts that can support elderly people in their ADLs in a way that allows them to stay self-sufficient for as long as possible. Method: To reach this goal, the Building Realization and Robotics Lab is researching in the field of ambient assisted living. The idea is to implement robots and sensors in the home environment so as to efficiently support the inhabitants in their ADLs and eventually increase their independence. Through embedding vital sensors into furniture and using ICT technologies, the health status of elderly people can be remotely evaluated by a physician or family members. By investigating ergonomic aspects specific to elderly people (e.g. via an age-simulation suit), it is possible to develop and test new concepts and novel applications, which will offer innovative solutions. Via the introduction of mechatronics and robotics, the home environment can be made able to seamlessly interact with the inhabitant through gestures, vocal commands, and visual recognition algorithms. Meanwhile, several solutions have been developed that address how to build a smart home environment in order to create an ambient assisted environment. This article describes how these concepts were developed. The approach for each concept, proposed in this article, was performed as follows: (1) research of needs, (2) creating definitions of requirements, (3) identification of necessary technology and processes, (4) building initial concepts, (5) experiments in a real environment, and (6) development of the final concepts. To keep these concepts cost-effective, the suggested solutions are modular. Therefore, it will be possible to straightforwardly install the proposed devices in an existing home environment in a ‘plug and play' manner once the terminals can be prefabricated off-site. Results and Discussion: This article shows a variety of concepts that have been developed to support elderly people in their ADLs. The prototypes of the proposed concepts in this paper have been tested with elderly people. The results of the tests show that robots embedded in furniture, walls, ceiling, etc. offer enhanced support, properly addressing elderly as well as disabled people to individually and independently manage their ADLs. In order to make the concepts realizable in terms of cost, it will be necessary to standardize and modularize these concepts for industrial fabrication.
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