Older adults’ experiences with Pepper humanoid robot
Rapidly developing robotics products offer potential solutions for numerous social and health care sector challenges.

In a care con­text, special atten­tion must be focused on the ethical use of the robots. One impor­tant aspect is to lis­ten and invol­ve the users in the deve­lop­ment and imple­men­ta­tion process. In this stu­dy, we pre­sen­ted the Pep­per robot wit­hin two elder­ly ser­vice homes in Fin­land. Pep­per is a social huma­noid robot able to recog­nize faces, com­mu­nica­te and inte­ract with humans.

The aim was to stu­dy: 1. how elder­ly percei­ve inte­rac­tion with Pep­per, 2. what kind of atti­tu­des they have rela­ted to the robot, and 3. how and whe­re they would or would not use Pep­per. Con­tent in the test events was pro­vi­ded by Pep­per, who pre­sen­ted per­so­nal digi­tal sto­ries about each senior (using facial recog­ni­tion), free discus­sion with Pep­per and having Pep­per demon­stra­te its skills, such as dance moves and tel­ling jokes. Infor­ma­tion was col­lec­ted by sub­jec­ti­ve mea­su­res, through direct obser­va­tion and semi-struc­tu­red inter­views in the test events, as well as test event video recor­dings’ ana­ly­sis fol­lowing test events.

The gene­ral atti­tu­de of par­tici­pants was posi­ti­ve; showing wil­ling­ness to com­mu­nica­te with Pep­per des­pi­te occa­sio­nal flaws and clum­si­ness expe­rienced in the test events. The flaws even crea­ted empat­hy towards the robot. The event was an enjo­y­able and social situa­tion. Even though not eve­ry­one was inte­res­ted in par­tici­pa­ting acti­ve­ly, most were wil­ling to obser­ve. Mul­tiple ideas aro­se regar­ding Pepper’s poten­tial applica­tion areas. The­se are discus­sed in more detail in this paper. Ove­rall, fin­dings indica­te that huma­noid robots (such as Pep­per) have the poten­tial to offer mea­ning­ful con­tent to older adults. Read more.