Misty II the social robot becomes part of the lives of twenty senior citizens

Twenty elderly people who live alone and already use services provided by the City Council’s Area for Social Rights are to be accompanied in their daily lives by the social robot Misty II as from February. This is the start of a pilot project to analyse the usefulness of this project created for the challenge ‘Improving the quality of life of senior citizens through technology’, launched by the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation.

27/01/2020 18:20 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The selected users will live with one of the four robots made available for the trial period. The robots will change home every two months between now and February 2021. Municipal staff will assess the circumstances of users before and after the time they spend with the robot at home, as well as the situation of carers who help look after them.

At the same time, the function of the robot and its applications can also be improved, based on the experience acquired in a real environment. The main goal is to study to what extent quality of life and well-being can be improved for senior citizens with some sort of dependency, as well as carers, through assistance provided by a social robot.

Analysis will therefore focus on whether the robot reduces isolation for the elderly, whether it helps monitor their state of health and whether it’s useful to help prevent them forgetting to take medication or overlooking medical appointments. Robots with digital capabilities and interconnectivity can also help integrate various digital devices in the homes of senior citizens, for instance communication devices or sensors.

If the results prove positive, the prospect of gradually extending the use of the robots to more city homes will also be studied.

Fairer, more sustainable and better-quality care

The project seeks to ensure equality in the care of the elderly, so that proper care is not just something for those with family networks or greater spending power. The challenge of public administrations is based on studying how to make care fairer, more sustainable and better quality.

Gender is also an important aspect in care work, as it is mainly done by women. At the same time, the design of long-term technology solutions also requires participation from carers and users themselves. Pilot projects such as the Misty II robot project are designed to address all these considerations.

Situation of elderly people in Barcelona

There are 350,000 people over the age of 65 in the city, 90,000 of whom live alone. In the next few years that figure is expected to gradually rise. Barcelona currently has 13,000 places in publicly funded homes for the elderly, with a waiting list of more than6,000 people.

At the same time, 40,000 households get support from the municipal Home Help Service (SAD) or receive benefits for non-professional carers, while the Municipal Telecare Service has now topped 100,000 users for the first time ever.

Studies show that 90% of senior citizens want to stay in their homes as long as possible and not go into a home or their children’s home.

53 projects from 14 countries

The winning project has been developed by the  Lleida-based company Grup Saltó, which will get 100,000 euros from the MWC Foundation to test its efficiency in a real environment, as set out in the competition rules.

The challenge ‘Improving the quality of life of senior citizens through technology’ attracted 53 proposals from 14 countries, including projects from France, Sweden, USA, Taiwan, Holland, Germany, Canada, UK and China. Half of those participating were international companies or entrepreneurs.

The process to choose the winners took into consideration whether the proposed technological solutions could lead to the development of new services, the overcoming of barriers to access more personalised services and their cost. The process also looked at how the projects took advantage of the immediateness, in real time, the almost unlimited connectivity and low energy consumption made possible through 5G technology.

To define the project, MWCapital and the City Council worked together with the Area of Social Rights and with participation from various foundations and associations, to gauge the needs of the senior citizens the project is aimed at.

 

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