Professor Goldie Nejat featured in Global News article

Professor Goldie Nejat was recently featured in a Global News article titled Conversations with Alexa: How robots are helping Canada’s aging population connect. Nejat is the Canada Research Chair for robots in society and Founder and Director of the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics (ASBLab) Laboratory. She is also an Adjunct Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Her research focuses on developing and integrating intelligent socially assistive robots for assistive human-robot interactions (HRI) in healthcare facilities, private homes and for high stress and dangerous jobs.

An excerpt from the article is below, to read the full article by Craig Lord visit the Global News website.

Goldie Nejat, Canada Research Chair for robots in society at the University of Toronto, says the conversational element of advanced AI has been a game-changer for digital literacy.

“They’re more intuitive because they communicate the same way as we do,” she says of smart assistants.

Like the pilot at Bruyère, Nejat’s research team has experimented with the potential of automation in senior care homes around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

But unlike Alexa, her team deploys human-like robots with transforming facial features to match vocal intonation — smiling and laughing like any other visitor to the home.

The robots can take over a variety of duties, including calling out bingo numbers, leading one-on-one or group exercise sessions, or finding a resident whose family has called and bringing them up on a screen embedded in the chest area.

Nejat highlights one of the most practical uses for the robot is not just reminding residents about meal times, but actually engaging in the social act of “dining” with them. Machines can prompt residents who have cognitive impairments about the next steps in dining with social cues and physical movements, she says.

“There’s all these kinds of different avenues, if you think about it, that we can support our older adults with providing that social, cognitive and physical assistance that they need,” she says.

© 2021 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering