Pet-Robot or Appliance? Care Home Residents with Dementia Respond to a Zoomorphic Floor Washing Robot

Marchetti, Emanuela and Grimme, Sophie and Hornecker, Eva and Kollakidou, Avgi and Graf, Philipp
Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Any active entity that shares space with people is interpreted as a social actor. Based on this notion, we explore how robots that integrate functional utility with a social role and character can integrate meaningfully into daily practice. Informed by interviews and observations, we designed a zoomorphic floor cleaning robot which playfully interacts with care home residents affected by dementia. A field study shows that playful interaction can facilitate the introduction of utilitarian robots in care homes, being nonthreatening and easy to make sense of. Residents previously reacted with distress to a Roomba robot, but were now amused by and played with our cartoonish cat robot or simply tolerated its presence. They showed awareness of the machine-nature of the robot, even while engaging in pretend-play. A playful approach to the design of functional robots can thus explicitly conceptualize such robots as social actors in their context of use.
April / 2022
Association for Computing Machinery
CHI '22
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