A consortium consisting of eight partners from science, business and health care will lead through the project "Care assistance with an interactive companion puppet for informal caregivers (OurPuppet)”. The OurPuppet project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and will be running until April 2019.
The main research objective of the OurPuppet project is to show that a novel form of man-machine interaction can provide support to informal caregivers such as their worries and uncertainties about the wellbeing of their loved ones can be relieved. This is of particular importance during times of absence, i.e. when the caregivers are away from home. Furthermore, the communication between caregivers and care recipients should be fostered in order to maintain a certain level of communication continuity.
To achieve this objective, a companion puppet is being developed, which is capable of sensing the emotional and health condition of the care recipient. In addition, the puppet can detect states of unwanted situations (e.g. the care recipient is agitated) and can animate the care recipient to perform certain activities (i.e. perform activations). In the case of a stressful or critical situation, the puppet will try to calm the care recipient and at the same time will offer support to the caregivers. Apart from the puppet, the system will be also comprised of a central computing unit (e.g. a smart home gateway) capable of sensing and controlling the environment.
The technical system is introduced, motivated and accompanied by specially qualified puppet guides.
Along with the technical innovation of the overall system, we also elaborate and prove an innovative tool in social sciences. Socio-emotional accompaniment of the care relationship will be paired together with participatory and user-oriented analysis and adaptation of the technical system by the puppet guides together with the users.
The ultimate goal is to develop an innovative feedback and communication instrument, which can be used not only in a home care setting but also inside care facilities. The target groups (i.e. the caregivers, the care recipients and their families) will be actively involved during the development process. What is more, any ethical and data privacy implications will be taken into account.