Robotic Services Acceptance in Smart Environments With Older Adults: User Satisfaction and Acceptability Study.
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BACKGROUND: In Europe, the population of older people is increasing rapidly. Many older people prefer to remain in their homes but living alone could be a risk for their safety. In this context, robotics and other emerging technologies are increasingly proposed as potential solutions to this societal concern. However, one-third of all assistive technologies are abandoned within one year of use because the end users do not accept them. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to investigate the acceptance of the Robot-Era system, which provides robotic services to permit older people to remain in their homes. METHODS: Six robotic services were tested by 35 older users. The experiments were conducted in three different environments: private home, condominium, and outdoor sites. The appearance questionnaire was developed to collect the users' first impressions about the Robot-Era system, whereas the acceptance was evaluated through a questionnaire developed ad hoc for Robot-Era. RESULTS: A total of 45 older users were recruited. The people were grouped in two samples of 35 participants, according to their availability. Participants had a positive impression of Robot-Era robots, as reflected by the mean score of 73.04 (SD 11.80) for DORO's (domestic robot) appearance, 76.85 (SD 12.01) for CORO (condominium robot), and 75.93 (SD 11.67) for ORO (outdoor robot). Men gave ORO's appearance an overall score higher than women (P=.02). Moreover, participants younger than 75 years understood more readily the functionalities of Robot-Era robots compared to older people (P=.007 for DORO, P=.001 for CORO, and P=.046 for ORO). For the ad hoc questionnaire, the mean overall score was higher than 80 out of 100 points for all Robot-Era services. Older persons with a high educational level gave Robot-Era services a higher score than those with a low level of education (shopping: P=.04; garbage: P=.047; reminding: P=.04; indoor walking support: P=.006; outdoor walking support: P=.03). A higher score was given by male older adults for shopping (P=.02), indoor walking support (P=.02), and outdoor walking support (P=.03). CONCLUSIONS: Based on the feedback given by the end users, the Robot-Era system has the potential to be developed as a socially acceptable and believable provider of robotic services to facilitate older people to live independently in their homes.
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