Robotic Object for “Being Seen”

A robotic object designed for elderly people, to enhance their feeling of being seen 

One of the challenges faced by healthy older adults is experiencing feelings of not “being-seen”. Companion robots, commonly designed with zoomorphic or humanoid appearance show success among clinical older adults, but healthy older adults find them degrading. We present the design and implementation of a novel non-humanoid robot.

The robot’s primary function is a cognitive word game. Social interaction is conveyed as a secondary function, using non-verbal gestures, inspired by dancers’ movement. In a lab study, 39 healthy older adults interacted with the prototype in 3 conditions: Companion-Function; Game-Function; and No-Function. Results show the non-verbal gestures were associated with feelings of “being-seen”, and willingness to accept the robot into their home was influenced by its function, with game significantly higher than companion.

The reseach concluded that robot designers should further explore the potential of non -humanoid robots as a new class of companion robots, with a primary function that is not companionship.

Project team: Prof. Oren Zuckerman, Dr. Hadas Erel, Andrey Grishko
Students: Dina Walker, Tal Moran, Chen Levy, Barak Lisak

  • Companionship Is Not a Function: The Effect of a Novel Robotic Object on Healthy Older Adults’ Feelings of "Being-Seen" (2020)