WA aged care robot an Australian first

13_WA aged care robot an Australlian first


(Australian Associated Press)

Residents at an aged care facility in Perth have been delighted by their newest addition, a 57cm-high robot who can host dance classes and even crack jokes.

Zora is the first robot to be introduced to an Australian aged care facility and was welcomed by delighted residents at Brightwater Madeley on Tuesday.

Zora can host activities such as exercise and music classes, book and news reading, and have one-on-one interactions with residents.

Using a tablet, care workers will program the robot, which is equipped with speech recognition and voice synthesis in 19 languages.

Zora will be part of a study next year led by Brightwater’s senior researcher Karla Seaman to increase understanding of how human-robot interaction can reduce cognitive decline in older people.

“Many of our residents suffer some form of cognitive decline,” Brightwater chief executive Penny Flett said.

“To provide the best care possible, we must constantly offer them new and different stimulation experiences, both mentally and physically.”

The robot is already used in aged care facilities throughout Europe and the US.

Tommy Deblieck, the managing director and co-founder of the company that developed Zora’s software, Belgium’s QBMT, said it was rewarding seeing the impact of the robots on the quality of life of aged care residents.

“We have been very careful in programming exactly how Zora interacts with people and human gestures such as blinking, making eye contact and slight head movements,” he said at the Perth launch.


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