Developing a Telepresence Robot for Interpersonal Communication with the Elderly in a Home Environment
“Telepresence” is an interesting field that includes virtual reality implementations with hu- man–system interfaces, communication technologies, and robotics. This paper describes the development of a telepresence robot called Telepresence Robot for Interpersonal Communica- tion (TRIC) for the purpose of interpersonal communication with the elderly in a home en- vironment. The main aim behind TRIC’s development is to allow elderly populations to re- main in their home environments, while loved ones and caregivers are able to maintain a higher level of communication and monitoring than via traditional methods. TRIC aims to be a low-cost, lightweight robot, which can be easily implemented in the home environment. Under this goal, decisions on the design elements included are discussed. In particular, the implementation of key autonomous behaviors in TRIC to increase the user’s capability of pro- jection of self and operation of the telepresence robot, in addition to increasing the interac- tive capability of the participant as a dialogist are emphasized. The technical development and integration of the modules in TRIC, as well as human factors considerations are then de- scribed. Preliminary functional tests show that new users were able to effectively navigate TRIC and easily locate visual targets. Finally the future developments of TRIC, especially the possibility of using TRIC for home tele-health monitoring and tele-homecare visits are dis- cussed.
TZUNG-CHENG TSAI, Ph.D., YEH-LIANG HSU, Ph.D., An-I. MA, M.S., TREVOR KING, M.S., and CHANG-HUEI WU, Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Yuan Ze University, Chung-Li, Taiwan, Republic of China.
TELEMEDICINE AND e-HEALTH Volume 13, Number 4, 2007 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2006.0068