General Article Robots to be used in UK care homes to help reduce loneliness

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

Machines can hold simple conversations and have been found to improve mental health.

By Robert Booth

Robots that can hold simple conversations and learn people’s interests are to be deployed in some UK care homes after an international trial found they boosted mental health and reduced loneliness.

The wheeled robots, called ‘Pepper’, move independently and gesture with robotic arms and hands and are designed to be ‘culturally competent’, which means that after some initial programming they learn about the interests and backgrounds of care home residents. This allows them to initiate rudimentary conversations, play residents’ favourite music, teach them languages, and offer practical help including medicine reminders.

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