Giraffplus: Telepresence robot designed for in-home elder care
By: Aleksa Krolls, intern, AARP Office of International Affairs
Publish Date: August
Product name: GiraffPlus
Use: Telepresence robot designed for in-home elder care
Company: EU- funded consortium of researchers led by Örebro University
Country/ Region: Europe
Availability: Undergoing testing until 2014
A team of European researchers led by Örebro University has created an at-home monitoring and alert system for the elderly. The GiraffPlus robot, funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework, continuously monitors a patient’s health via a network of sensors placed in the home. Designed in close collaboration with intended users, the GiraffPlus system aims to empower the elderly to live independently and securely with the knowledge that caregivers can virtually “visit” at any time.
Through its network of sensors, the GiraffPlus system can monitor a patient’s blood pressure, body temperature, individual movements and sleeping patterns. The information is recorded and linked to an online system, and can be later used to guide health assessments. The system’s sensors are also programmed to register unusual behavioral patterns. So if a patient suddenly falls, GiraffPlus has the ability to alert emergency services and caregivers.
The remote-controlled GiraffPlus mobile robot features a Skype-like interface that allows caregivers and healthcare professionals to make virtual house calls. These visits conveniently allow caregivers to check on the patient and communicate health measures based on the information collected by the system.
The user-friendly robot also offers patients the option to choose who is able to access the GiraffPlus system. This feature ensures patient privacy, but still allows for open communication with trusted healthcare professionals and caregivers.
The GiraffPlus system has already been tested in a demo apartment in Örebro, Sweden, but researchers will now evaluate the robot in real homes before placing the product on the market. The robot will be tested in at least 15 homes of elderly people throughout Sweden, Italy and Spain by the year 2014.
Researchers of the GiraffPlus project ultimately hope to provide the elderly with a sophisticated and affordable in-home aid, ameliorating the financial and emotional burden on caregivers.