Galit Nimrod and Yael Edan of Ben Gurion University of the Negev were awarded a research grant from the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology to study processes of assimilation of Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) among older users. IPAs combine features of both service and companion robots, and have great potential to promote subjective wellbeing in old age. Applying the holistic approach to the study of human-robot interaction in later life, Nimrod and Edan will explore the extent to which IPAs indeed promote wellbeing in later life, the factors that constrain or alleviate processes of assimilation of IPAs, and whether processes of assimilation and contribution to wellbeing vary upon IPA’s type.
The study will combine knowledge and methods from both the social sciences and industrial engineering. Sixty community-dwelling individuals aged 75 years and over will be recruited and given an IPA for a period of three months. During this time, qualitative and quantitative measures will be used to assess use patterns, the outcomes resulting thereof and factors that constrain use. Results are expected to promote the existing body of knowledge regarding processes of assimilation of new technologies among older adults. In addition, the findings will be used to create a toolbox for technology developers and designers, that will guide adaption of existing technology to older people’ needs as well as development of designated technologies for the global aging population.