Ninety-four-year old Lea is able to stay home thanks to the care she receives from a robot. Often described as a kind of Skype on wheels, it’s part of a European project entitled Giraffplus, which connects elderly people with the world outside. These remote-controlled machines are being tested as substitutes for round-the-clock carers to face the needs of a rapidly ageing society.
“I know that if something happens to me, say, I fall or I faint, I can send an SOS by remote control. I press a green button and the video turns on. A doctor or a therapist appears and asks me how I’m doing. I can see them and they can see me and they can treat me from home,” says Lea.
The “Giraff” robot, which lends its name to the project, can be tailored to each patient’s needs. It uses a Skype-like interface to allow relatives or caregivers to pay the elderly person virtual visits in their home.