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Monday, February 20, 2017

Long-Distance Conversations Through Robots (Dementia, Alzheimer's Research, Video 1:26)


The Telenoid R1 is a human-like remote controlled robot created by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a Japanese roboticist. What makes this robot so unique is an audio and transmitter movement through which people can relay messages over long distances. In other words, a loved one in another location can speak to the user of the robot in a conversation. Made of silicone rubber, the robot is designed to be an ambiguous figure in terms of gender and age.

This is what happens when the user communicates with someone who is not present. Cameras and microphones capture the voice and movements of an operator which are projected through the Telenoid R1 to the user. The mouth is able to open and close to imitate talking. A webcam or other video capturing device can record a person's movements and voice and send them to the Telenoid R1 using a connection with Wifi. A few pre-programmed, controllable behaviors are greetings, expressing happiness, and motioning for a hug. Random actions include such behaviors as breathing and blinking, which give the robot the appearance of being alive.

Telenoid R1 was researched at a group home for the elderly with dementia. Researchers compared Telenoid-mediated and face-to-face conditions with three residents with Alzheimer's disease. The results indicate that two of the three residents with moderate Alzheimer’s disease showed a positive reaction to Telenoid. Both residents became less nervous while communicating with Telenoid from the time they were first introduced to it. They also started to use more body gestures in the face-to-face condition and more physical interactions in the Telenoid-mediated condition.

This video, which was recorded at a conference, gives a brief demonstration of how Telenoid R1 communication operates. In addition to usage at work and in education, researchers hope Telenoid R1 can be used successfully with older adults in care homes to communicate with family members who are not able to visit them personally.


Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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