--- Posted by Vincent Dupourqué, project coordinator of AAL-DOMEO project
Having started developing service robots in the 80s by founding a company called ROBOSOFT, I was wondering how the robotic technologies could be used to help people, not only for military, space or industrial applications.
The AAL programme gave me the opportunity to develop this idea by funding a project called DOMEO, whose goal is to develop a robotic platform for personalized homecare services, as well as cognitive and physical assistance.
This project initiated the development of the Kompaï robot, which means companion in the Basque language. Kompaï helps the elderly and dependent to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, and in complete safety. Kompaï can find out where he is and move on his own through the apartment or house, detecting and avoiding any obstacles. He can understand what people say and give answers, both thanks to the most advanced speech recognition and synthesis technologies available. It also has a touch screen with simple and intuitive graphics, just like modern smartphones.
Being constantly connected to the internet, and being able to stay near its owner, the elderly and dependent can be reached at any time by family or care assistants, but can also call for help when needed with a call button. Kompaï can also detect alarms or risky situations and call for help by himself.
With this permanent communication link, all modern means of communication such as SMS, phone or video-conferencing are available to improve the social lives of those who cannot leave their homes.
Kompaï also offers many services such as the weather, appointment or medication reminders, making shopping lists, providing cerebral stimulation exercises, playing videos or listening to the radio...
He works well with call centers which can, thanks to remote control features, make an assessment of the situation before making a visit, as well as for doctors who can consult remotely even if the owner is in bed.
With more than 3 million Europeans affected by dependence, companion robots like Kompaï represent a great source of hope for improving their quality of life at home, while significantly reducing costs of Long Term Care through the arrival of a productivity tool for caregivers.
Finally, given the economic situation and the market potential, companion robots will become a major business area in the coming decades, giving European companies a great opportunity for growth.