Dr. Jenay Beer has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and Georgia Tech for her project on "Telerobotics Research". The goal of this research is to understand how robots can help older adults with disabilities. The proposed robots work like "Skype on wheels" allowing a person to remain connected with his friends and family. Her lab has already acquired some exciting new technologies: The full abstract of the project follows:
Age-related functional declines and secondary conditions can result in mobility and participation restrictions that can put individuals aging with disability at risk for further loss of functional capacity and social isolation. The purpose of this project is to understand the requirements of robotics interventions to compensate for loss of maintaining activity and social interaction among older adults with disabilities. Specifically, we are interested in the use of telerobots used for social communication. These types of robots function a lot like "Skype on wheels", and may provide opportunity to older adults to remain better connected with friends, family, and healthcare professionals. Specific aims of this project are to: 1) understand the barriers and facilitators to telerobot acceptance for older adults with disabilities and age-related declines; 2) assess the usability of a telerobot, and determine the characteristics necessary to enable older adults with hearing loss and age-related mobility limitations to control a telerobot; and 3) determine the effectiveness of telerobotic exercise interventions for enhancing exercise outcomes and social connectedness. The project will produce evidence to support the use of telerobots for interactive exercise interventions as well as recommendations for the design of telerobotic technologies.