A Study on the Design of Companion Robots Preferred by the Elderly

  • Soo Yeon Kim
  • Young Hoon Oh
  • Da Young JuEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 962)


As the elderly population grows rapidly, companion robots have attracted attention as a technological solution for problems faced by the elderly. Although the design elements of companion robots have influenced their usability, there remains a lack of relevant research. Therefore, this paper aims to extend our understanding of the design elements of companion robots preferred by the elderly. We conducted experiments on what types, weight, and materials are preferred for the elderly aged 50–64. Furthermore, we analyzed whether there were statistically significant differences in design preferences according to gender, living arrangement, and age. Consequently, the preference of the female elderly for robots over 2 kg was observed to be significantly lower. Additionally, elderly people living alone preferred synthetic fur over elderly people living with others. In conclusion, it was found that the specific weight and material of the companion robot affects the preference of elderly people.


Companion robot Human-Robot interaction Elderly Design User experience 



This research was supported by Research Program To Solve Social Issues of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (NRF-2017M3C8A8091770). This research was supported by the MIST (Ministry of Science and ICT), Korea, under the “ICT Consilience Creative Program” (IITP-2018-2017-0-01015) supervised by the IITP (Institute for Information & communications Technology Promotion). We are particularly grateful for the assistance given by Jaewoong Kim and Su Wan Park.


  1. 1.
    United Nations: World Population Ageing 2017 Highlights, New York (2017)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jacobzone, S.: Coping with aging: international challenges. Health Aff. 19, 213–225 (2000). Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barba, B., Tesh, A., Courts, N.: Promoting thriving in nursing homes: the Eden Alternative. J. Gerontol. Nurs. (2002). Scholar
  4. 4.
    Djernes, J.K.: Prevalence and predictors of depression in populations of elderly: a review. Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 113, 372–387 (2006). Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cacioppo, J.T., Hughes, M.E., Waite, L.J., Hawkley, L.C., Thisted, R.A.: Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Psychol. Aging 21, 140–151 (2006). Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stek, M.L., Vinkers, D.J., Gussekloo, J., Beekman, A.T.F., van der Mast, R.C., Westendorp, R.G.J.: Is depression in old age fatal only when people feel lonely? Am. J. Psychiatry. 162, 178–180 (2005). Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mui, A.C.: Depression among elderly Chinese immigrants: an exploratory study. Soc. Work 41, 633–645 (1996). Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lim, L.L., Kua, E.-H.: Living alone, loneliness, and psychological well-being of older persons in Singapore. Curr. Gerontol. Geriatr. Res. 2011, 673181 (2011). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chou, K.-L., Chi, I.: Comparison between elderly Chinese living alone and those living with others. J. Gerontol. Soc. Work 33, 51–66 (2000). Scholar
  10. 10.
    Russell, D., Taylor, J.: Living alone and depressive symptoms: the influence of gender, physical disability, and social support among Hispanic and non-Hispanic older adults. J. Gerontol. Ser. B Psychol. Sci. Soc. Sci. 64B, 95–104 (2009). Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cavanagh, J.T.O., Carson, A.J., Sharpe, M., Lawrie, S.M.: Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review. Psychol. Med. 33, 395–405 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kachouie, R., Sedighadeli, S., Khosla, R., Chu, M.T.: Socially assistive robots in elderly care: a mixed-method systematic literature review. Int. J. Hum. Comput. Interact. (2014). Scholar
  13. 13.
    Preuß, D., Legal, F.: Living with the animals: animal or robotic companions for the elderly in smart homes? J. Med. Ethics (2017). Scholar
  14. 14.
    Friedmann, E., Galik, E., Thomas, S.A., Hall, P.S., Chung, S.Y., McCune, S.: Evaluation of a pet-assisted living intervention for improving functional status in assisted living residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment: a pilot study. Am. J. Alzheimers. Dis. Other Demen. (2015). Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shibata, T.: Therapeutic seal robot as biofeedback medical device: qualitative and quantitative evaluations of robot therapy in dementia care. In: Proceedings of the IEEE (2012)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Shibata, T., Wada, K.: Robot therapy: a new approach for mental healthcare of the elderly - a mini-review (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wada, K., Shibata, T., Kawaguchi, Y.: Long-term robot therapy in a health service facility for the aged - a case study for 5 years. In: 2009 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, ICORR 2009 (2009)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wada, K., Shibata, T.: Living with seal robots - its sociopsychological and physiological influences on the elderly at a care house. In: IEEE Transactions on Robotics (2007)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wada, K., Shibatal, T., Musha, T., Kimura, S.: Effects of robot therapy for demented patients evaluated by EEG. In: 2005 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS (2005)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Banks, M.R., Willoughby, L.M., Banks, W.A.: Animal-assisted therapy and loneliness in nursing homes: use of robotic versus living dogs. J. Am. Med. Dir. Assoc. 9, 173–177 (2008). Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lucidi, P.B., Nardi, D.: Companion robots: the hallucinatory danger of human-robot interactions five ethical concerns for companion robots (2018)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Miehle, J., Bagci, I., Minker, W., Ultes, S.: A social companion and conversation partner for elderlyGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bemelmans, R., Gelderblom, G.J., Jonker, P., de Witte, L.: Socially assistive robots in elderly care: a systematic review into effects and effectiveness. J. Am. Med. Dir. Assoc. 13, 114–120.e1 (2012). Scholar
  24. 24.
    Forlizzi, J., DiSalvo, C., Gemperle, F.: Assistive robotics and an ecology of elders living independently in their homes. Human-Computer Interact. (2004).
  25. 25.
    Heerink, M., Kröse, B., Evers, V., Wielinga, B.: The influence of social presence on acceptance of a companion robot by older peopleGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Oh, Y.H., Kim, J., Ju, D.Y.: Analysis of design elements to enhance acceptance of companion robot in older adults. In: RO-MAN 2018 - The 27th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, Workshop on Social Cues in Robot Interaction, Trust and Acceptance (2018)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Heerink, M., Kröse, B., Evers, V., Wielinga, B.: Assessing acceptance of assistive social agent technology by older adults: the almere model. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 2, 361–375 (2010). Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sharkey, A.: Robots and human dignity: a consideration of the effects of robot care on the dignity of older people. Ethics Inf. Technol. 16, 63–75 (2014). Scholar
  29. 29.
    Moyle, W., Jones, C., Sung, B., Bramble, M., O’Dwyer, S., Blumenstein, M., Estivill-Castro, V.: What effect does an animal robot called CuDDler have on the engagement and emotional response of older people with dementia? a pilot feasibility study. Int. J. Soc. Robot. 8, 145–156 (2016). Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kidd, C.D., Taggart, W., Turkle, S.: A sociable robot to encourage social interaction among the elderlyGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Gouaillier, D., Hugel, V., Blazevic, P., Kilner, C., Monceaux, J., Lafourcade, P., Marnier, B., Serre, J., Maisonnier, B.: Mechatronic design of NAO humanoid. In: 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (2009)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Heerink, M., Albo-Canals, J., Valenti-Soler, M., Martinez-Martin, P., Zondag, J., Smits, C., Anisuzzaman, S.: Exploring requirements and alternative pet robots for robot assisted therapy with older adults with dementia. Presented at the October 27 (2013)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Creative Technology Management, Underwood International CollegeYonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.School of Integrated Technology, Yonsei Institute of Convergence TechnologyYonsei UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  3. 3.Technology and Design Research Center, Yonsei Institute of Convergence TechnologyYonsei UniversityIncheonSouth Korea

Personalised recommendations