Researchers develop AI-based personalized care robot technology for elderlies

By Park Sae-jin Posted : October 7, 2021, 10:30 Updated : October 7, 2021, 11:16

[Courtesy of ETRI]

SEOUL -- To tackle elderly care-related problems prompted by South Korea's rapidly aging society, a state research body has developed artificial intelligence-based care robot technology. Smart robots based on massive datasets can verbally communicate with old people and monitor their movements.

Care robots are normally designed to provide care for patients and old people at their homes or health facilities. The robots are able to communicate with a control tower to let their supervisor know about an abnormal situation. Care robots are based on AI and big data technology so that they can study and learn human behaviors and provide personalized care.

South Korea has a rapidly aging society with more than 15 percent of the country's population aged 65 or more in 2020. Government data showed that the number of old people would increase to take up more than 20 percent of the whole population by 2025.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said that its research team has developed a care robot installed with 13 AI-based technologies including body movement recognition, hand-carry item recognition, self-generated interactive robot behavior, and the recognition of the voices of old people. The robot can verbally check to see if an old man takes his medication and give the right posture for stretching during fitness activities.

Smart cameras detect abnormal situations or activities. The care robot can find a person who has fallen to the ground and monitor the daily movement of its master such as pouring water into a cup or using a vacuum cleaner to see if there are any uncommon movements.  

In September, ETRI rolled out a two-month demonstration involving two old ladies living in Suwon, a southern satellite city of Seoul. A robot was deployed to each household to check the efficacy of technologies. In October, ETRI will provide useful care robot services for some 100 old people at a community health center in the western port city of Incheon.

ETRI established "living labs," which is a laboratory-like monitoring space at homes and offices, for 40 old people living in the central city of Daejeon to demonstrate care robot-related technologies. "This is the world's first time a research team has carried out a long-term research project designed to develop and demonstrate care robots based on specialized data," the institute said in a statement on October 7.

"Through massive long-term demonstrations, we were finally able to acquire core technologies by repeatedly encountering and solving unexpected problems. We hope that our robot technology provides help for old people," ETRI's human-robot interactive technology lab head Kim Jae-hong was quoted as saying.
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