Acceptability of Assistive Robotics by Older Adults: Results from a Human-Centred Qualitative Study
Authors: Claudia Becchimanzi, Ester Iacono, Alessia Brischetto
Abstract: Assistive robotics provides a powerful solution for improving the quality of life of the elderly and frail people and will play a key role in the coming years as part of strategies for Ageing in place and Active and Healthy Ageing. If robots are going to be used by a large number of users, it is essential that they are accepted by as many people as possible. However, many of the assistive robots are designed with little consideration of the social, aesthetic, and emotional relationships that the elderly will experience when interacting with the product (Forlizzi et al., 2004). The acceptability of technology is a big issue, especially for elderly and frail people: the factors that influence it, and that also determine a positive User Experience, are many, as shown by the countless existing evaluation methods. Moreover, the acceptability of technology, in particular for elderly and frail users, is currently a delicate issue, whose evaluation criteria offer many challenges to design research. In fact, the interaction that users establish with assistive robots and all related technologies defines the very experience of aging. In this context, the Human-Centred Design and Ergonomics in Design approaches and methodologies can contribute to improve human-robot-digital technology interaction through the design of assistive robots according to people’s real needs and expectations.This paper presents the results of a survey conducted with primary and secondary users of assistive robots, with a focus on factors influencing robotic acceptability.The survey aims to collect quantitative and qualitative data about the relationship between people and robots, with a focus on beliefs, attitudes, preferences and use of such devices by users of different age and technological experience level. The survey aims to investigate users' attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and goals in relation to robots.The survey, conducted as an online questionnaire, is targeted at current and potential users of social and assistive robots. The questionnaire is addressed to a sample of users of both genders, aged between 18 and 99 years. The total sample surveyed is 272 people in Italy and 15 people in Europe. The survey includes a preliminary demographic analysis of users (age, robotic experience level, etc.) and then it investigates the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors towards assistive robots, and also the aesthetic and functional factors that may influence its acceptability.This research applies the scientific methods of Human-Centred Design and Ergonomics in Design (Stanton, 2014; Giacomin, 2014; Maguire, 2001) for qualitative investigation of older adults' preferences for assistive robots.The results provide an insight into how the acceptability factors of assistive robot tested in the literature actually relate to the preferences and attitudes of potential and current users. In addition, the results highlight the need for stronger involvement of stakeholders during the design phases of robots in order to promote a deeper understanding of those people’s needs and insights that cannot be collected by quantitative surveys. This study provides a groundwork for future researches in the Human-Robot Interaction and Human-Centred Design areas.
Keywords: Assistive Robotics, Human-Centred Design, Acceptability of Technology, Qualitative research, Elderly
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