Researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered that, contrary to previous assumptions, older adults are more amenable than younger ones to having a robot “perform critical monitoring tasks that would require little interaction between the robot and the human.”
The findings will be presented at the upcoming HFES 53rd Annual Meeting, Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, October 22, 2009.
Despite manufacturers’ increased development of in-home robots, it’s unclear how much interaction people would be willing to have with them. Robots can perform routine tasks such as cleaning, the Roomba vacuum cleaner being the best-known example. Studies have found that individuals think of robots as advanced appliances, but there is not much research on why this is so. Robots could perform more critical tasks, such as reminding a person to take medications, teaching a new skill, providing security, and reducing social isolation.
To gauge how willing people might be to have a robot perform these kinds of more interactive tasks, Drs. Neta Ezer (now at Futron Corporation), Arthur D. Fisk, and Wendy A. Rogers sent a questionnaire to 2,500 Atlanta-area adults ages 18 to 86 and received 177 responses. One of their questions addressed respondents’ level of experience with technology and robots that do things like mow, clean, guard, and entertain. Older adults (ages 65 to 86) had significantly less experience with technology than younger ones (18-28), but younger adults had only slightly more experience with robots currently on the market.
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