News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Residents rate healthcare robot

Residents’ rate healthcare robot

Residents at an Auckland retirement village are being won over by a robot that checks blood pressure, plays music and tells jokes, in a study being carried out at The University of Auckland.

Residents and staff at Selwyn Retirement Village scored Charlie the robot on average 80 out of 100 in a study of attitudes and emotions towards robots.

Fifty-three people participated in the study, 32 residents and 21 staff. They filled in two questionnaires, one before meeting the robot and one after.

Dr Bruce MacDonald, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and head of the research group, said most older people at the retirement village liked the robot and found it easy to use.

“We were pleased because the results show that robots can be acceptable to older people and that they enjoy using them.”

Charlie the robot, who checks blood pressure, plays music, tells jokes, and responds to hugs was developed by the Health Bots project.

The project launched in June 2008, is helping the University’s researchers develop inexpensive robotic assistants for aged care.

Previous research had found that attitudes and emotions are important when it comes to technology acceptance, but there has been little research undertaken about the acceptance of robots, said Dr MacDonald.

Dr Elizabeth Broadbent, Senior Lecturer in Psychological Medicine, says the study shows that researchers are on the right track and on average the attitudes and feelings of the robot users changed in a positive way after using the healthcare robot.

“Most people have never interacted with a robot - this is especially true of older people who did not grow up with computers, cell phones, and other modern technologies.

“Our previous research has shown that people's expectations of what a robot looks like reflect what they have seen about robots in the media, for example C3PO from the movie Star Wars or the Daleks from Dr Who.

These expectations form the basis for the feelings and attitudes people hold about robots before they have even met one,” said Dr Broadbent.

Dr MacDonald said the comments from residents and staff gathered during the study will also guide future robot changes.

“Many people suggested that the robot could provide access to things on the internet that are more difficult to use, including email, web searching, and web phone calls,” he said.

This latest study builds on earlier research that investigated what retirement village residents and staff want in a healthcare robot.

The study’s findings are being presented at a conference in Italy tonight.

The Health Bots project operates in collaboration with Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Yujin Robot. Seed funding for the Health Bots project was provided by UniServices, the University’s commercialisation arm, and ongoing funding is provided by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, as well as the Korean Government.

It is anticipated eventually that sales of the robot will create new high-value export markets for New Zealand.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland