How AI could transform elder care

A House of Commons (UK) committee questioned a humanoid robot, Pepper, to see how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics can be used to help care for older people.

Pepper is currently based at Middlesex University and works with final year students on robotics, psychology, biomedicine and education. An identical robot with different programming is also part of a three-year international research project called Caresses, which is developing the world’s first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people.

Pepper told the education select committee that the service could cut costs for caring for older people, as well as helping with issues such as loneliness.

Pepper said: “Assistive intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressure on hospitals and care homes as well as improve the care delivery at home and promote independent living for elderly people.”

SoftBank Robotics, the firm behind Pepper, claims that the humanoid is capable of ‘understanding and reacting to main human emotions’. It states: “Pepper is well equipped with features and a high level interface for communicating with those around him. Pepper analyses expressions and voice tones using the latest advances in voice recognition.”

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