These are everyday situations where things can suddenly happen very quickly. For example, a sudden fall of the edge of the carpet can often cause injuries, especially in the elderly. “We don’t want people to remain in a very uncomfortable position for hours or days, on the floor or possibly injured. Instead, support must be available urgently,” explains Florian Zahorka, a research associate at St. Polten University of Applied Sciences. He is also a volunteer in the rescue service.
According to statistics, a third of people over 65 years of age fall on average once a year. The older you get, the higher the risk of falling. Although there are systems such as the home emergency call, any bracelet with a button that you can press in the event of an emergency, there are also obstacles. Some people do not want such a system, while others do not wear the bracelet exactly when they suddenly fall.
The vacuum cleaner robot has been upgraded with the voice assistant
This is where they wanted to start, explains Andreas Jackle, lecturer at St. Polten University of Applied Sciences: “We thought about what is actually used in everyday life, but at the same time we have a lot of sensors that we can use to do more. These are The way we came up with the idea of connecting a robotic vacuum cleaner with speech in order to recognize a fall or the danger of a fall.”
Florian Zahorka and Andreas Jakl have upgraded their standard vacuum cleaner robot with Alexa – to create a so-called smart companion. This can recognize the person lying on the floor and use the audio output to ask if help is needed. If the person does not respond, the rescue operation is alerted.
In focus: robot vacuum with assistance function
A new device is currently being researched at St. Polten University of Applied Sciences in order to be able to respond faster in the event of a single downfall. For this purpose, the vacuuming robot has been upgraded to the so-called Smart Companion.
But there are also cases where the elderly simply need help without it being an emergency. Here they wanted to create a low-threshold display, explains Zhurka: “The existing systems are set up and are also working. We are thinking about adding or expanding this system. The idea is that emergency services don’t come right away, but relatives are notified, for example.”
Robots can recognize people with cameras
Last but not least, vacuum cleaners bots are getting smarter in recent years. Some of them can now tell people from things. “The newer robots have cameras. This means they can recognize the cables or shoes around so they don’t get tangled up anymore,” says Yackle. “Why would we use all this just to get around the cable when you can do so much more?”
The research project will continue for another three years. Until then, one wants to work out, among other things, how to conduct dialogues with the vacuuming robot so that the AI does not fail in emergency situations. At the same time, they want to test the vacuuming robot on a large scale so that it will soon become a lifesaver in your four walls.
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