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University programmed robots support independent living

​Computer technologists at the University of Gloucestershire are working with Service Robotics Ltd to develop healthcare robots to monitor and assist the daily life of the elderly.

The AI-driven robot is combined with a friendly service agent who provides live video support on the robot screen, via simple voice command. The Genie robot itself also acts as a companion, answering questions and providing personalised content and reminders, using Artificial Intelligence and knowledge of the user. The robots are also wireless and small enough to fit on a table, desk or kitchen counter. 

Genie Connect provides a deeply personalised service which supports independent living, meaning elderly people can spend longer living at home, by themselves. They are designed to help people manage their health, for example, reminding them to take medication, therefore offering peace of mind to their families. With this in mind, the Genie robot has the potential to play a significant role in the future of healthcare provision in the UK.

The robots even incorporate dementia and elderly care technologies to provide reminiscence and memory stimulation. For example, Genie will ask ‘do you remember this trip last year?’ and will show family photos and videos on the screen.

University lecturer, Zayd Dawood, has been consulting with Service Robotics Ltd on software strategy and acting as an Academic Advisor on the project, looking into the possibilities of integrating the robot not only for the company Service Robotics Ltd’s platform, but how it could be used in a wider academic context. Additionally Zayd is looking at the practicalities of what kind of apps would be beneficial for the robot, aspects such as Artificial Intelligence and Gaming are potentials.

Zayd Dawood, Academic Course Leader in Digital Media and Web at the university, said:

“The public has become versed with the terms 3D cinema, virtual reality and augmented reality – but we’re now entering an era of technology that is driven by robots and AI. It’s great to be working with Service Robotics Ltd and with an advanced system. The robots will enable the university to teach the next generation of technological development and we’re looking forward to making some apps on the robot, almost like an Alexa on Legs. 

Rob Parkes, Co-Founder of Services Robotics Limited, said:

“GenieConnect® was created due to a combination of the co-founder’s experience in digital services, our Engineering background, and our direct experience with family members struggling to transition into living independently. The University of Gloucestershire has a dynamic approach to working with local businesses, and we have received a lot of help not only from Zayd in software design and strategy, but Jessica Reid, Lecturer in graphic design, and marketing support from MBA students. Our relationship with the university’s Growth Hub began in the very early stages of our business, following a recommendation from another local business contact.”

The project will deliver 150 robots as part of a pilot study to establish the effectiveness of companionship between robots and humans in the first half of this year.