ExCITE - Enabling SoCial Interaction Through Embodiment
The main objective of ExCITE is to evaluate user requirements of social interaction that enables embodiment through robotic telepresence. This evaluation is performed in situ, on a PanEuropean scale and with a longitudinal perspective. An existing prototype is deployed to the targeted endusers, and is refined by tightly involving the users in the development cycles of the prototype throughout the project.
Telepresence has long been advocated as a means to enable virtual face to face communications for people located at different places. A newer variant of telepresence that has recently emerged proposes to integrate ICT technologies onto robotic platforms and enable actuation in a remote location. So far robotic telepresence has made a debut in the deployment of robotic systems in dangerous or unreachable environments. However, a number of systems are starting to emerge that advocate the use of robotic telepresence in a domestic or office environment.
The use of such systems for the aging society as a tool to enhance social interaction for the elderly is still relatively novel. However, used as a device to increase social interaction, robotic telepresence could be particularly suited to an elderly audience for a number of reasons. Firstly, the elderly interacts with the robot in a natural and intuitive manner as little additional learning is required for the elderly. Secondly, the client connecting to the robot from a remote location gains a greater level of control which is currently not possible in desktop type telecommunication applications. This greater level of control allows the client to move in the environment. Thirdly, this particular type of technology is suitable for a diverse group of elderly including those who are very mobile (with multiple residences) who want to maintain contact their family kin etc; as well as those who are less mobile and want to connect to the device to gain a greater sense of mobility and access.