- Researchers have developed AI-based technology to help robots locate lost items, particularly targeting individuals with dementia
- The system uses object-detection algorithms and episodic memory in companion robots to track objects and provide their last observed time and location
- Initial tests have shown high accuracy, and user studies will be conducted with both non-disabled individuals and people with dementia
Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in using artificial intelligence (AI) to help robots locate lost items. This new technology aims to assist individuals, particularly those with dementia, in finding essential objects such as medicines, glasses, and phones that they frequently misplace.
Dementia often leads to memory loss and confusion, making it challenging for individuals to remember where they have placed everyday items. This not only diminishes their quality of life but also adds to the burden of caregivers. To address this issue, researchers have developed an innovative approach involving companion robots with their own episodic memory, enabled by AI.
"The long-term impact of this is really exciting," said Ali Ayub, a post-doctoral fellow at the the University of Waterloo in Canada.
"A user can be involved not just with a companion robot but a personalised companion robot that can give them more independence," Ayub said.
The team employed an object-detection algorithm to program the robot to detect and track specific objects within its field of view, using stored video to maintain a memory log. By distinguishing between different objects, the robot can record the time and date an object enters or exits its sight.
To facilitate interaction with users, the researchers created a graphical interface that allows individuals to select objects they want the robot to track. By inputting the names of the desired objects, users can search for them using a smartphone app or computer. The robot can then indicate the last observed time and location of the requested item.
Tests have demonstrated that the system is highly accurate, although some individuals with dementia may find it initially challenging to use. However, caregivers can readily operate the technology on their behalf. The researchers plan to conduct user studies first with individuals without disabilities and then with people diagnosed with dementia.
The project was presented at the 2023 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in Stockholm, Sweden. The potential impact of this AI-based technology is immense, offering a promising solution for individuals with dementia and anyone seeking assistance in locating misplaced items. With further development and user studies, this innovative approach has the potential to significantly improve the lives of those affected by memory loss and cognitive impairments.