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.