Home robotics to help elderly

Trials are under way for an EU-funded home robotics system which could help keep people safe.

24 July 2014

AS WARNINGS are issued again to the elderly over the risk of heatwaves, trials are under way for an EU-funded home robotics system which could help keep people safe.

GiraffPlus is being trialled in homes across Europe, using Swedish-made “Giraff” robots plus networks of sensors to monitor everything from blood pressure and sugar levels to gas or water leaks and activities, like cooking, sleeping or watching TV.

The robot allows family or health workers to “visit”, with their face appearing on its screen while they move around the home using their mouse. The user can accept “calls” and allow trusted callers access to their home at any time, for example to see if the user has fallen or is having difficulty getting out of bed. When not in use the robot goes to a charging station and “sleeps”. An “SOS” system can be installed to call for a doctor by pressing a remote control.

The Giraff is already is use in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden as a subscription service costing around €400 a month.
“If it can keep a person at home and postpone transition to a nursing home, then it can pay for itself in just a few months,” says Stephen Von Rump. “We’ll be offering the service in France as soon as we find a commercial partner, with a solid understanding of the healthcare system and cultural approach to caring for the elderly.”

Photo: Niclas Albonsson AB

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