A team of European universities, research institutes, commercial companies and care organisations have been working on a new type of social carer which can provide help in these and other situations. The EU-funded Mobiserv project has been working for the past three years to create a robot companion for older adults that can remind them about eating, drinking and taking medicines, offer structure throughout the day, and help people to stay active by suggesting a variety of activities.
The robot is one component of a larger automated system that Mobiserv is developing for elderly people. It includes wearable smart clothes - which can, for example, monitor vital signs or sleeping patterns, and detect falls - and a smart home environment. This will consist of smart sensors, optical recognition units, and home automation elements, to detect, among others, eating and drinking patterns, activity patterns, and dangerous situations.
Mobiserv began in December 2009 and a prototype for the social companion robot was developed in the second year of the project after conducting extensive research with end-users and their formal and informal carers.
Based on the findings and the prototype tests, the robot and other Mobiserv services are being improved and fine-tuned to be useful, acceptable, and fun to use.