Implementation of Smart, Healthy, Age-friendly Environment through an Inclusive Robotic Air Purifier

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Jonathan LagriminoSara VivianiAlessandra Rinaldi

Abstract: A survey conducted in the United States estimates that people spend about 90% of their time inside buildings, mainly distributing activities in their homes and workplaces [1].The same lifestyle of being confined most of the time within enclosed spaces is also prevalent in Europe. This habit provides the opportunity and the right motivation to implement interventions that promote health and livability of the environments in which people live or work. In multiple fields of design discipline, this is translated into a focus on the development of quality indoor spaces that return comfortable environments for the inhabitants to organize, manage and modulate based on their needs and habits.The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being" [2]. Thus, inhabitant well-being can be measured not only in the satisfaction of basic human needs related to an individual's physical health, but also in all those intangible aspects related to the psycho-social sphere, such as perceived feelings of security, self-esteem, positivity, mood, and productivity [3].New design paradigms for a "healthy building" evaluate a multiplicity of factors that contribute to the determination of living comfort and the resulting qualitative perception of the inhabited space. These include the issue of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) management. The "inhabitants" of an enclosed space usually turn out to be exposed not to a single agent, but to a mixture of substances that is generated by the concurrence of several triggers that combine into a potentially harmful mix for the occupants [4].Symptoms resulting from the effects of indoor pollution that are grouped under the acronym of BRI - Building-Related Illness - include specific pathological cases. In this regard the multiple studies on SBS - Sick Building Syndrome - are just one of the many concrete examples of the impact caused by a failure or fallacious management of the issue of indoor pollution [5].The evolving Coronavirus pandemic scenario has revolutionized people's habits, stimulating them to reflect on their condition as "inhabitants" forced to occupy enclosed spaces, suffering its negative influence. This reflection has been echoed by a strong awareness of aspects concerning indoor air quality highlighted also by the exponential increase in the market for air treatment devices. The growing attention to indoor air quality is part of the broader changement underway concerning the people's increasing sensitivity to issues relating to the care of their psycho-physical health in all its facets, from simply reducing risk factors to preventing aging.The paper presents a research project, titled APLU, which led to the development of an ion-generating robot that also has the function of a vacuum cleaner. A careful analysis of the state of the art in air purification devices revealed the lack of a holistic approach in the design of these products, whose function is often reduced to a mere assembly of components with embedded digital technologies. The main limitation that emerged is that the devices currently on the market are designed to be fixed, which entails limited coverage of the indoor space, as well as difficulty in interfacing and controlling by users, especially by elders.In this context, APLU aims to increase the usability of a purifier, in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction, and to create an inclusive interface, through the integration of advanced technologies, related to the field of robotics and Internet of Things. The final result of the research through design is a robot able to move autonomously within the home, going to cover in its purification activity the entire space of the house based on its sensing capabilities.The transition from a static device to an independent robot in the management of its functions also meets the need to interface with the most fragile categories of users, who are more exposed to the dangers of pollutants. The research project therefore intends to: i) test and validate the possibility of minimizing the user's burden of managing the product; ii) increase its efficiency by equipping it with autonomous intelligence; iii) facilitate the interaction with the device by providing inclusive support and monitoring tools capable of relieving the work of users, especially the elderly; iv) test the acceptability by the elderly, often hostile to advanced technological solutions.

Keywords: good health and wellbeing, indoor air quality, robotic design, ambient intelligence, human, centered design, design for inclusion

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003325

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