VicarVision is proud to have received a Eurostars grant to develop a truly empathic robot. Buddy, developed by Blue Frog Robotics is a friendly personal robot that can watch over elder users and help with daily activities. In order to be a real companion, Buddy must also understand the user. This means the Buddy will be updated to enable computer vision analysis to analyse emotions and physiological signals from the face, body, and voice. Learning these important emotional signals can help integrate a successful health coaching program. This will help help older people to remain healthy.
By 2025, 22% of the global population will be over 60, creating societal challenges linked to aging, including loneliness, pain, and health issues. Research shows that 40-90% of these problems are modifiable. Lifestyle interventions promoting an active, positive, and social life can reduce these negative health effects. However, adhering to such advice is tough. This is where empathic robots come in. They can provide motivation and timely suggestions. While the personal robot market is growing, there’s a lack of robots capable of complex emotional interactions and true companionship. This project aims to bridge that gap and bring social robots to consumers.
The goal of this project is to provide older users (and their caregivers) with a robotic companion running the latest AI technology. This will help deliver advice for keeping a healthy lifestyle in a personalized way. With VicarVision’s facial analysis technology we hope to make the Buddy robot more empathic. We will work towards this goal with several partners from France and Austria. Blue Frog Robotics is a leading European robotics company and the developer of the Buddy the emotional robot. Loidl consulting is an Austrian health tech company that will help integrate the platform in their LC Marketplace which supports agencies in the 24h care market. The research institute Salzburg Research will assist with the intervention development and research activities. And the CINR-LISN lab from Sorbonne will work on ethics and emotion from speech.
The main result of the project will be an enhanced Buddy robot with stronger hardware and improved functionalities. More specifically, it will be embedded with FaceReader multimodal emotion and physiological assessment, monitoring health related indices and delivering just-in-time adaptive lifestyle interventions based on behavior change theory, implemented in a 24h support platform. We will gather more data on older users in robot interactions to help build our algorithms. In addition, we will validate the effectiveness of the robot assistant in a longitudinal validation study. This will help test how Buddy can be an empathic robot and assist older users in the best way.
For more information and to stay updated on the project visit the project website: www.buddy-bewell.eu