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Researchers create robot ‘personal trainer’ for seniors

A group of Portuguese and Spanish researchers have developed a robotized personal trainer for seniors capable of “defining personalized exercise plans” and “alert for possible health problems”, UMinho (University of Minho) announced today.

In a statement, UMinho, who participated in the invention of ‘Pharos’, the name given to that “interactive friend”, explains that the robot “intends to promote the active aging of the population and fight against loneliness.”

Developed jointly with the Polytechnic of Valencia and Alicante (Spain), Pharos can “become a virtual assistant, friendly and user-friendly, helping seniors to maintain a healthier life.”

Pharos, a “humanoid model made in Japan,” works “thanks to a system” created by Ângelo Costa and Paulo Novais, from the Synthetic Intelligence Lab of the Algoritmi Center at UMinho, which allows the robot to “assess the physical condition of the elderly to then recommend the most appropriate activities. ”

According to the text, one of the software modules designed at UMinho “integrates a decision support mechanism, based on health status and user profile, which allows the robot to build a personalized and adjustable exercise plan according to the needs” .

The Minhota academy explains that “there is another module that, using artificial intelligence, makes possible the evaluation of the income, the identification of possible health problems and the confirmation that the exercises are being done properly.”

The health status of the elderly is assessed using two processes: “It is verified in a first stage if the capacity of movement is within the limits of generic models, according to age, and then evaluated in the history of each user if there is manifestly a linear degradation of physical capacities, “the statement said.

“A low performance in the exercises can reveal underlying problems that would be impossible to detect otherwise. This artificial intelligence technique is innovative because it uses only the cameras in the robot for detecting movements,” says researcher Ângelo Costa.

The information is communicated verbally and physically by ‘Pharos’, through movements of arms, head and torso, and also appears in an integrated screen that allows a more direct interaction with the user.

The “Pharos” measures 1.2 meters and weighs 28 kilos, having a “friendly look” that helps the adoption and use by the elderly.

The Uminho recalls data revealed by the UN that indicate that the European population over 60 is 13% and is expected to exceed 25% by 2050.

“Services to support these people, such as caregivers and homes, will not be able to keep up this climb, causing more and more elderly people to be left homeless,” warns Professor Paulo Novais.

“In spite of the efforts made by various entities to overcome this social problem, UMinho places itself with this project in the lead in terms of the development of robot assistants for the elderly,” the scientists said.

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