Mobile manipulators for assisted living in residential settings

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We describe a methodology for creating new technologies for assisted living in residential environments. The number of eldercare clients is expected to grow dramatically over the next decade as the baby boom generation approaches 65 years of age. The UMass/Smith ASSIST framework aims to alleviate the strain on centralized medical providers and community services as their clientele grow, reduce the delays in service, support independent living, and therefore, improve the quality of life for the up-coming elder population. We propose a closed loop methodology wherein innovative technical systems are field tested in assisted care facilities and analyzed by social scientists to create and refine residential systems for independent living. Our goal is to create technology that is embraced by clients, supports efficient delivery of support services, and facilitates social interactions with family and friends. We introduce a series of technologies that are currently under evaluation based on a distributed sensor network and a unique mobile manipulator (MM) concept. The mobile manipulator provides client services and serves as an embodied interface for remote service providers. As a result, a wide range of cost-effective eldercare applications can be devised, several of which are introduced in this paper. We illustrate tools for social interfaces, interfaces for community service and medical providers, and the capacity for autonomous assistance in the activities of daily living. These projects and others are being considered for field testing in the next cycle of ASSIST technology development.








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