Pharos, a robot to help older people exercise
According to the latest report on the evolution of the world population prepared by the United Nations, 13% of the current population exceeds 60 years of age; and in 2050, this percentage will almost double, reaching 25%. The aging of society is a reality and technologies adapt day by day to this demographic change.
In this context, researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the University of Alicante and the Universidade do Minho are working on a new interactive robot - called Pharos - to help the elderly in their daily physical activities at home. His work has recently been published in the magazine Sensors .
"Our goal is to make Pharos a companion for older people; a virtual assistant, friendly and easy to use, who periodically recommends personalized physical activities, promoting a healthy life and facilitating the active aging of the population, "says Vicente Julián, researcher at the Computer Technology and Artificial Intelligence Group of the Universitat Politècnica de València .
Pharos is based on a commercial robot -Pepper- to which the researchers have included two modules: the first of them recommends an exercise plan adapted to each user; the second, using advanced Artificial Intelligence techniques, evaluates the execution of the exercise, verifies if the user performs them correctly -comprising them with an exercise library stored by Deep Learning techniques- and registers them in the system
The robot also includes a visual and physical interface with which it interacts with the user for identification through his camera. "Once he is identified, Pharos determines the most appropriate exercises based on his abilities. In addition, the exercise program is periodically adapted to the evolution and health status of the user. For this, it incorporates a recommendation algorithm, which even helps to detect possible health problems, "explains Ester Martínez, a researcher at the Group of Robotics and Three-dimensional Vision (RoViT) of the University of Alicante.
The main difference of Pharos with respect to other similar systems is the meticulous follow-up of the users, as well as the possibility of determining whether they perform the exercises correctly or not. It is a very useful tool for caregivers and assistants, since it allows to visualize in a very simple way if it diminishes the capacity to do certain exercises, which can reveal progressive physical or cognitive problems.
"The low performance in carrying out the planned exercises may be warning of any anomaly in the user. And, by recording the exercise history, Pharos helps reveal underlying problems that might otherwise be impossible to see, "the researchers point out.
The team of Spanish-Portuguese researchers is currently working on improving the user-robot interaction, optimizing the recognition system of the exercises, as well as ensuring that several users can use it without interfering with the rest of the users, resorting to planning strategies .
Pharos is one of the results of Retogar , a project focused on improving the care of people with acquired brain damage led by researchers at the University of Alicante.
Angelo Costa, Ester Martinez-Martin, Miguel Cazorla and Vicente Julian. PHAROS-PHysical Assistant RObot System . Sensors. Doi: 10.3390 / s18082633.