The multi-modal interface of Robot-Era multi-robot services tailored for the elderly
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© 2017 The Author(s) Socially assistive robotic platforms are now a realistic option for the long-term care of ageing populations. Elderly users may benefit from many services provided by robots operating in different environments, such as providing assistance inside apartments, serving in shared facilities of buildings or guiding people outdoors. In this paper, we present the experience gained within the EU FP7 ROBOT-ERA project towards the objective of implementing easy-to-use and acceptable service robotic system for the elderly. In particular, we detail the user-centred design and the experimental evaluation in realistic environments of a web-based multi-modal user interface tailored for elderly users of near future multi-robot services. Experimental results demonstrate positive evaluation of usability and willingness to use by elderly users, especially those less experienced with technological devices who could benefit more from the adoption of robotic services. Further analyses showed how multi-modal modes of interaction sup port more flexible and natural elderly–robot interaction, make clear the benefits for the users and, therefore, increase its acceptability. Finally, we provide insights and lessons learned from the extensive experimentation, which, to the best of our knowledge, is one of the largest experimentation of a multi-robot multi-service system so far.
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