Project at a Glance

Project Background

Physical training is one of the most important and often used therapies for physical rehabilitation and prevention of physical deficiencies in all age groups including older people. The success of the undertaken therapy is largely dependent on the patient’s training compliance and competence, which in daily practice results in a high variance of the training results. 

Regularefficient and independently conducted physical training is the base for therapy success. Applying strategies for motivating the patient prior and during the training at home is especially important to ensure quantity and quality of the training execution and hence the efficiency of the undertaken physiotherapy. One effective strategy currently used in the field of AAL is to apply ICT solutions, designed especially for the target group of older people, that are capable of displaying and explaining training exercise movements and are able to give feedback on the quality of the conducted training by monitoring and analyzing the patient’s movements during the training. Socially assistive robotics can build upon, and play an important role in this strategy by introducing a new way of interaction with ICT systems – the human robot interaction (HRI). The base for this interaction strategy is a multimodal communication between the patient and a social assistive robot (SAR), which targets a natural, understandable and motivating interaction.

Goals and Methods

The optimization of current HRI techniques in the context of AAL will be the goal of research undertaken within the proposed study and will be evaluated and displayed using the showcase of physical training at home. The development and evaluation of HRI strategies for enhancing the user’s motivation to conduct the physical training is one of the core tasks to reach this goal. This study will not define new therapeutic exercises but evaluate how interaction and motivation strategies can be transferred to the field of socially assistive robotics and how these strategies can be optimally used for the target group of older people.

A classical participatory design process including single and multi user interviews, focus groups with primary and secondary users, real-life tests and multi-disciplinary workshops will be used to evaluate the scientific questions. This study will cover

  • interdisciplinary development of interaction strategies with SAR for physiotherapy
  • the adaption and use of an already existing ICT based prototype system (SAR robot and Kinect system) to demonstrate the developed strategies
  • The evaluation with end users and discussion of the findings in an HRI workshop with experts from medicine, physiotherapy and HRI.


The scientific results will be gathered by analysis of the involvement of primary, secondary and tertiary users during the user needs evaluation, workshops with domain experts for the definition of interaction strategies and a final usability study together with older end users. The results including the defined strategies will be made accessible for the AAL community by conducting multidisciplinary workshops, writing national / international publications and public deliverables and the project website. The results gathered within this study shall help other projects with a focus on HRI in the field of AAL in general. Although this study will be based upon a show-case on physiotherapy, the expected results will not be limited to this application area but can be used and adopted for a general deployment of SAR systems as interface in AAL solutions (e.g. smart home interfaces).

Nao Training