New robot helps el­derly peo­ple to ex­er­cise and de­tects health prob­lems

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - Jwick­man@cb­

By Joe Wick­man RE­SEARCHERS from the Univer­si­tat Politèc­nica de Valèn­cia (UPV), the Univer­si­dad de Ali­cante (UA) and the Univer­si­dade do Minho are work­ing on an in­ter­ac­tive robot called Pharos which will help the el­derly with their daily house­hold chores.

“Our ob­jec­tive is to turn Pharos into an­other com­pan­ion of the el­derly; a vir­tual as­sis­tant, friendly and easy to use which reg­u­larly rec­om­mends per­son­alised phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, pro­mot­ing a healthy life and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the ac­tive age­ing of the pop­u­la­tion,” high­lights Vi­cente Julián, re­searcher at the Com­puter Tech­nol­ogy and Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence Group of the UPV.

Pharos is based on a com­mer­cial robot – Pep­per – to which re­searchers have added two mo­d­ules: the first which rec­om­mends an ex­er­cise plan adapted to each user, and the sec­ond which, through ad­vanced AI tech­niques, as­sesses com­ple­tion of the ex­er­cise, ver­i­fies whether the user has com­pleted it cor­rectly – com­par­ing it to a li­brary of stored ex­er­cises through Deep Learn­ing – and reg­is­ters them on the sys­tem.

The robot also in­cludes a vis­ual and phys­i­cal in­ter­face that the user will in­ter­act with in or­der to iden­tify them through a cam­era. “Once they are iden­ti­fied, Pharos de­ter­mines the most ap­pro­pri­ate ex­er­cises de­pend­ing on their ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Fur­ther­more, the ex­er­cise pro­gramme is reg­u­larly adapted to the evo­lu­tion and health of the user. To this ef­fect, it in­cludes a rec­om­men­da­tion al­go­rithm which can even help de­tect health is­sues,” ex­plains Ester Martínez, of the UA.

The main dif­fer­ence of Pharos com­pared to other sim­i­lar sys­tems is the de­tailed mon­i­tor­ing of users, as well as the pos­si­bil­ity to de­ter­mine whether they are per­form­ing the ex­er­cises cor­rectly or not. It is a very use­ful tool for car­ers and as­sis­tants, as it makes it pos­si­ble to eas­ily check if the abil­ity to per­form cer­tain ex­er­cises di­min­ishes, which can re­veal pro­gres­sive phys­i­cal and/or cog­ni­tive prob­lems.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port on the evo­lu­tion of world­wide pop­u­la­tion sub­mit­ted by the United Na­tions, 13% of today’s pop­u­la­tion is over 60 years of age; and by 2050 this per­cent­age will al­most dou­ble, reach­ing 25%.

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