Design and Acceptability of Technology: introduction to “Robotics & Design: the tool to design Human-Centered Assistive Robotics”

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Claudia BecchimanziFrancesca Tosi

Abstract: Assistive robotics is making significant progress in a wide variety of areas and will play a key role in the coming years as part of strategies for Ageing in Place and Active and Healthy Aging. Despite the demonstrated potential of technology to support the care of elderly and frail people, some elements still limit its application, such as the technology acceptability issue. The acceptability of technology, in particular for elderly and frail users, is a delicate issue, whose assessment metrics offer many opportunities for design research: in fact, the interaction that users establish with assistive technologies defines the very experience of aging (Forlizzi et al., 2004).The complexity of Human-Robot Interaction requires multidisciplinary collaboration that includes engineers, designers, health and social service associations and cooperatives, caregivers, economists, sociologists, lawyers, psychologists, therapists, and even end users such as the elderly and their families. In an effort to design for acceptability, it is therefore essential to make effective interdisciplinary cooperation among all professionals involved in the development of robotic systems. However, despite the common background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), the scientific and methodological approaches of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) and Human-Centred Design (HCD) are significantly different in methods, philosophy and structure.The presented research is based on a general hypothesis: the HCD approach, if applied to the preliminary design phases of assistive robots, could lead to a deep understanding of needs, expectations and desires of people. Designers can use many methods (interviews, focus groups, ethnography, etc.) to explore people’s emotions and other abstract feelings that cannot be investigated through quantitative tools and statistical data. An appropriate knowledge of the user, of the context in which the interaction takes place and of the activities to be performed, could increase the attitude and intention of people to use assistive robots. This process would be even more effective if the designer knew the variables of acceptance in the HRI field. Designers often work within a multidisciplinary team composed of engineers, computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists, etc. Designers are catalysts for different professional skills involved in the project: consequently, they should also know the evaluation methods and intervention strategies in the field of HRI. This would lead designers to have a broader view on design processes and to recognize the most important variables of acceptability in robotics.On this basis, the tool "Robotics & Design: the tool to design Human-Centered Assistive Robotics," online at www.roboticsdesign.org, was developed. This tool, presented in this paper, has two main goals:- design purpose: to support the development of a cross-disciplinary collaborative process, to excerpt design patterns (Preece, 2015) from the results of scientific trials as they can be used by other designers according to users' features, activities, and contexts of use and then be translated into tangible design solutions;- theoretical and scientific purpose: to develop a methodological bridge between the HCD and HRI fields; and to provide designers and researchers in design with tools for agile consultation of the main methodologies and variables of acceptability in robotics and their intercorrelation.

Keywords: Human, Centred Design, Human, Robot Interaction, Assistive Robotics, Cross, disciplinary Research, Design Methods and Tools.

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003752

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