Designing a Multi-disciplinary Class to Create a Social Robot for Alzheimer's

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Kimberly MitchellXiaopeng ZhaoJohn HootenRobert BrayLuke Macdougall

Abstract: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and is associated with memory loss and cognitive impairments that affect daily life. Approximately 5.8 million older adults in the U.S. are living with AD (Alzheimer’s Association, 2020). People with AD often require high levels of care and assistance to maintain daily activities. The majority of care provided to a person living with AD or other forms of dementia is from a family caregiver, representing 18.6 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $244 billion (Alzheimer’s Association, 2020). The long duration, time-intensive nature of caregiving imposes high burdens on caregivers. To ease the burden on caregivers and to help assist those living with AD and other forms of dementia, several social robots have been developed. The existing robots on the market have high price points, and because of this are not accessible to a majority of the population. To address this issue, in the fall 2021 semester, undergraduate and graduate students in mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering, computer science, graphic design, and architecture studied and created a low-cost social robot option. This study poses two research questions: 1. How can students understand the functional problems and needs associated with AD? 2. How can different disciplines work together to create a social robot? Students read literature reviews, conducted stakeholder meetings, designed two low-cost prototypes and performed preliminary user testing. The paper will outline guidelines for the build, interaction, and capabilities of a multi-disciplinary class in evaluating and creating new and existing social robots for dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Keywords: Social Robots, Alzheimer’s, Caregivers

Keywords: social robot, dementia, caregiving, user testing, ethical

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002538

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