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Companion robots interacting with local seniors

Mork and Mindy have arrived at The Village at Canadore College.

The two human-driven companion robots are part of a new research project looking into new ways to end seniors’ isolation.  

“We’re actually looking at changes in loneliness, social isolation and overall life satisfaction,” says Dr. Anna-Liisa Mottonen, Social Sciences faculty and Primary Investigator. “We’re measuring those before and after the project to see if there have been any changes.”

She says they hope to be in the residence working with older adults for about eight weeks. 

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“We’ll be bringing the robots to one residence and we have another residence that will just use tablets,” Dr Mottonen says.  “They will have similar types of activities, but we want to see if the humanoids, the companion robots, make a difference so we can compare the results between the two.”

“I see a great application with my aging parents to keep them socially engaged as they continue to get older,” says George Burton, Canadore College President and CEO.  “I never imagined my parents would be iPad fanatics, but they are.  They follow North Bay and local news on their iPad and that’s how they engage socially now with their friends.  I see this as a great addition to that set, to keep them healthier and that’s what this is all about.”  

The pilot study is expected to start up next month.

Older adults will work with students from Canadore’s Health, Human Care and Wellness Programs on the project. 

The project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program with the Retired Teachers of Ontario District 43 and 44 collaborating on the project, too. 

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