Social robots on the agenda at ITAC

The value to people with dementia of robotic assistants such as Matilda the social robot, Paro the robotic seal and Gerry the video-casting giraffe will be discussed at the upcoming Information Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference, being held in Melbourne from May 1 to 2.

Matilda's caretaker Rajiv Khosla and Gerry's researcher Wendy Moyle are both keynote speakers at the conference, the theme of which is consumer-centric service delivery.

Professor Khosla has been studying social robots at the Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation at La Trobe University for a number of years, and in February launched a new trial to study how interaction with the robots affected the emotional wellbeing of people with mild dementia living in their own homes.

He will present on how Matilda embodies lifestyle-centred care during a session discussing whether assistive devices are liberating or limiting.

Professor Moyle, director of the Centre for Health Practice Innovation (HPI) at Griffith University in Queensland, has also been studying how social robots may improve the symptoms of dementia for a number of years.

She and her team have been working with Gerry, a telepresence robot developed by Stephen von Rump and his team at Giraff Technologies and equipped with an in-built camera that can facilitate video calls between people with dementia and their families or carers, which is currently being trialled at a Queensland aged care facility.

She is also hoping to conduct a large-scale study of Paro the robotic seal, which can respond to touch, light, voice and temperature and has been classified by the US FDA as a medical device.

Professor Moyle's team did a study last year that found contact with the robot created positive benefits for people with dementia, including lowered anxiety and improvements in mood. The team is hoping to receive enough funding to conduct a study of 400 participants in approximately 30 nursing homes.

Her presentation will explore social robots and their place in improving quality of life for people with dementia.

Also on the ITAC agenda is Brian Prince, chief technology “evangelist” for cloud computing with Microsoft, who will discuss how gamification can be used to create desired behaviours, and David Cox, managing director of Embleton Care – which was recently purchased by the Regis group – who will discuss how clinical software can be better integrated into management process to improve care delivery.

The PCEHR will also be a big topic of discussion, with the chair of the Aged Care Industry IT Council (ACIITC), Suri Ramanathan, providing an update on the aged care industry's road map for PCEHR integration.

David Loiterton, vice president of the Aged Care Industry Vendors Association (ACIVA), will discuss what PCEHR enablement has meant to aged care software vendors.

A representative of the Department of Health and Ageing will also provide an update on the development of the aged care gateway.

Early bird registrations for ITAC close on April 10.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Wendy Moyle 2013-04-03 21:15
While I would love to have developed Gerry - our affectionate name we gave to our Giraff robot - the robot was developed by Stephen Von Rump and team. We have been testing Gerry in residential care with people with dementia and will undertake further testing in the community at a later date.
0 # Kate McDonald 2013-04-04 08:16
Thanks Wendy. I've updated the story to say Gerry was developed by Stephen Von Rump.

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