UTS hosts social robotics conference as Woz joins faculty

A special session on social robots for therapeutic purposes will be held at next week's International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2014), being hosted by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) from Monday.

The University of Auckland's Robotics Research Group, led by Bruce MacDonald, will present results from randomised cross-over trial it has conducted using robots in older people’s homes to improve medication adherence and quality of life, as well as the development of brain training games for a healthcare service robot for older people.

UTS itself has a robotics faculty that includes leading researchers in mechatronics and robotics for health applications, robots at home, and autonomous wheelchairs and assistive technologies, including Gamini Dissanayake, Hung Nguyen and Mary-Anne Williams. Professor Dissanayake will present at ICSR 2014 on a novel, collaboratively designed robot to assist carers.

Other presentations will look at the effect of a social humanoid robot as a therapy assistant in cancer treatment for children, and examining social cognitive mechanisms of individuals with autism observing robot and human faces.

University of Birmingham bioethicists Simon Jenkins and Heather Draper will discuss robots and the division of healthcare responsibilities in the homes of older people.

The conference is being held at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo from October 27 to 29.

UTS has also announced that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has joined the university as an adjunct professor.

Mr Wozniak is working with staff and students in the Magic Lab at UTS's School of Software and Centre for Quantum Computation and Intelligent Systems, led by Professor Williams.

"Woz loves the energy, the vibe and the robots in the Magic Lab," she said.

According to Professor Williams, Wozniak is the "coolest person in the universe" and provides an exceptional inspiration for UTS students.

"He beams in on our telepresence device to chat with students, share his latest ideas and entertain with jokes and the occasional prank,” she said.

"Woz constantly highlights the new possibilities for technology to change the world and enjoys sharing his insights and experiences. The students have been totally wowed by the attention he has given them – one claiming he had changed her life in less than 60 seconds."

Woz is expected to arrive for his second visit to the UTS city campus in December, she said.

Posted in Aged Care

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