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Advisory Council January 2019 Meeting Presentation: ARIES

Monday, January 28, 2019

Printer Friendly Version in PDF Format (5 PDF pages)


ARIES - Affordable Robotic Intelligence for Elderly Support

Bertram F. Malle
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences
Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative
Brown University
Providence, RI

Interdisciplinary Team

  • Behavioral Science and Design
    • Bertram Malle, CLPS Brown; Claudia Rébola, University of Cincinnati
  • Computer Science and Robotics
    • Michael Littman, CS Brown, Peter Haas, HCRI Brown
  • Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology
    • Gary Epstein-Lubow, Hebrew Senior Life, Boston, MA
    • Michael Armey, Butler Hospital, Providence, RI
  • Ageless Innovation ( <== Hasbro)
    • Andrew Jeas
    • Ted Fischer


  • Aims
    • Not an intervention to combat dementia
  • An intervention to support individuals with the challenges of aging, with or without dementia.
    • Not to replace health-care professionals or family members
  • A technology that helps lighten the burden on family members and the healthcare system.
  • Affordable assistance with small but challenging tasks of daily living; connecting with friends and family; and relieving agitation and loneliness.
    • Not a robot server, therapist, entertainer
  • But a comforting and understandable robot companion.

Starting Point:

Companion Pet examples.

Existing Strengths

  • Comforting, familiar, non-threatening
  • Creating limited expectations
  • Affordable (~$100)

New Intelligence

  • Perception, memory, nonverbal communication
    • tracking of lost objects, helping find them
    • fall detection, medication reminders, social contact reminders, vitals or other behavioral data...

Project Components

  • Project Components
    • Use behavioral science methods
  • To assess older adults' major challenges of daily living with which a small, affordable robotic system can assist.
    • Apply inclusive design principles and cutting-edge computer science
  • To alleviate help some of these challenges.
    • Use a systematic, longitudinal assessment of the developed system
  • To establish safety, efficacy, and acceptability for older people with or without cognitive impairments.

Challenges Assessment

  • In-person standardized interviews Independent living facilities; starting in memory care facility
  • Online survey with representative samples
  • Small-sample longitudinal study
  • With care recipients as well as for informal caregivers

Preliminary Results (50 healthy adults > 65)

Top 5 Challenges Top 6 Adoption Reasons
Difficulties with technology (e.g., cell phone, computer, TV remote) Measuring vitals (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure)
Difficulties with misplacing or losing things (e.g., glasses, keys, phone, wallet). Locating lost objects (e.g., keys, reading glasses, wallet)
Difficulties moving myself from seated to standing position or getting in/out bed Detecting falls and calling for help in medical emergencies
Difficulties with my moods, with keeping a positive outlook Playing cognitive games for cognitive health
Difficulties with speech and language (e.g., speaking clearly, finding the right words, holding a conversation) Reminders of medication, appointments, exercise, etc.
  Connecting with friends and family

Technical Elements

  • Detailed analysis of existing pet companion
  • Enhancing sensors, information processing and storage
    • Infrared +
    • Edge processing (smart phone, hub)
  • Enhancing movement for communication
    • Test possible "vocabularies" (paw, head, sounds...)
  • Software development
    • Learning objects and locations through encounters
    • Respond to inquiry ("where are my glasses?")
    • Locate objects
    • Guide care recipient to lost object