Designing an elderly-appropriate voice control for a pill dispenser

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DOI: 10.18416/AUTOMED.2020


The demographic change poses technical, social and eco-nomic challenges, as more people require assistance for maintaining a healthy and good quality life. The emergence of technical assistance systems applying communication and information technologies as well as artificial intelli-gence present viable solutions for these challenges. The goal of this research work is to develop a concept for intel-ligent and user-centered assistance systems for the elderly at the example of a medication assistance system, a medi-cine cabinet as well as an automated walker. A significant aspect when designing the proposed assistance systems is their usability by the elderly. Although aging brings forth a gradual deterioration on a sensory, cognitive and muscular level, this declining process is variable for each individual as well as for one individual over time. An assistance sys-tem should, however, be made utilizable by everyone. One measure to develop an elderly-appropriate assistance sys-tem is to include a multimodal user interface. An interface is defined to be multimodal if it offers more than one inter-action method. This includes auditory, visual, and haptic interactions 1,2. Subsequently, the user can interact with the system regardless of the symptoms of aging which man-ifest over time 3. Another aspect is the ability for the el-derly to use the system and benefit from the emerging tech-nologies, without directly having to deal with its increas-ingly complex structure. Hiding the system’s complexity from the user is reasonable as many elderly people are not familiar with modern technologies. Arguing that both as-pects play a major role when designing an elderly-appro-priate and utilizable assistance system, applying voice con-trol can provide a natural access to an assistance system. It enables multimodality as well as ease of use as verbal com-munication is the default and natural communication method among humans. As an approach to make assistance systems elderly-appro-priate and -useable, in this contribution, we focus on de-signing voice control for the medication assistance system, namely, a pill dispenser.



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