The Robot therapist is in


Associate Professor Sonja Pedell is the Director of Swinburne’s Future Self and Design Living Lab, and her team are exploring the use of humanoid robots in care settings to determine whether intelligent machines can increase the quality of life for older adults and augment the role of human practitioners.

Her current research focuses on technology development and design, especially new technologies that can benefit elderly users. The team have been examining how an NAO humanoid robot can stimulate mobility and interactions among people with dementia. The 58cm tall robots have been trialled with 30 seniors in a group setting – set up on a table, introduced as Kira and controlled via laptop in such a way that the remote control was not obvious. The exercises and dances performed by Kira elicited a positive response from the seniors, who showed interest in it, clapping along with it and trying to communicate with it.

“For me it meant that they had found something they were interested in and it wasn’t imposed on them,” says A/Prof Pedell.

Read more about NAO robot-human interaction research on page 30 of our Research Impact magazine: