As we get older, it’s important to live in an environment that supports good brain health, but that doesn’t always happen. Some people become physically less mobile when they age, and retirement can mean a person’s social circle shrinks. This can lead to social isolation. Add in depression or Alzheimer’s disease and that situation can get even worse.
Many technologies are being developed to help people live independently for longer and with a good quality of life, but Hector the robot wants to take care of cognitive functioning too, particularly where a person has a chronic condition such as depression or dementia.
Hector is the star of CompanionAble, an EU-funded project that developed the mobile robot as a helpful companion that links in with ‘smart home’ technology.
Hector comes when you call his name, he can mind your glasses and wallet, he reminds you to take medication and to carry out tasks and he can even call for help if you fall. And if you want company beyond a yellow robot, you can contact friends and family through his video interface. You can watch him in action here.
Hector also delivers cognitive ‘games’ through a tablet device that automatically adjust to suit the user, and the platform can allow caregivers to monitor important aspects of health. The idea is that by offering cognitive and practical support through Hector and the smart home environment, the user will be able to stay living at home, at least semi-independently, for longer and with a good quality of life.
The CompanionAble Project was led by the University of Reading and involved researchers across seven European countries. You can read the final report of the 4.5-year project here.
Hector is a working prototype, and he catches the eye as an unusual addition to a home, but perhaps in the future ‘Hectors’ will be helping people manage in homes throughout Europe and beyond.
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