“Teach Me–Show Me”—End-User Personalization of a Smart Home and Companion Robot

Care issues and costs associated with an increasing elderly population are becoming a major concern for many countries. The use of assistive robots in “smart-home” environments has been suggested as a possible partial solution to these concerns. A challenge is the personalization of the robot to meet the changing needs of the elderly person over time. One approach is to allow the elderly person, or their carers or relatives, to make the robot learn activities in the smart home and teach it to carry out behaviors in response to these activities. The overriding premise being that such teaching is both intuitive and “nontechnical.” To evaluate these issues, a commercially available autonomous robot has been deployed in a fully sensorized but otherwise ordinary suburban house. We describe the design approach to the teaching, learning, robot, and smart home systems as an integrated unit and present results from an evaluation of the teaching component with 20 participants and a preliminary evaluation of the learning component with three participants in a human–robot interaction experiment. Participants reported findings using a system usability scale and ad-hoc Likert questionnaires. Results indicated that participants
thought that this approach to robot personalization was easy to use, useful, and that they would be capable of using it in real-life situations both for themselves and for others.