Deutsch, I., Erel, H., Paz, M., Hoffman, G., & Zuckerman, O. (2019).
Home Robotic Devices for Older Adults: Opportunities and Concerns

Computers in Human Behavior

Abstract

Robotic devices for older adults are becoming a reality. New robots are being introduced for the growing subpopulation of healthy older adults, with an emphasis on supporting the positive aspects of aging. In order to inform the design and implementation of such robots, the relevant needs and concerns of this population should be studied, mapped, and translated into recommendations. We present a qualitative study of thirty cognitively-intact older adults, evaluating their attitudes and emotional reactions towards different types of home robotic devices. Interview analysis of participants reactions to videos of six devices uncovered four user needs that can be threatened by the introduction of home robots: the need for independence, the need for control, the fear of being replaced, and the need for authenticity. Furthermore, results reveal that cognitively-intact older adults are willing to adopt robotic devices into their homes, contingent upon their preferences and concerns being addressed. We provide recommendations regarding how researchers and designers of home robots can better address the user needs of healthy older adults by leveraging aspects of the robot’s function, speech, appearance, size, proactivity, and mobility.