UTA Researchers Using Shakespeare & Robots To Help Seniors

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FORT WORTH (CBS11) – Researchers at the UT Arlington Research Institute in Fort Worth, known as UTARI, are trying to figure out how high-tech robots can offer much needed therapy to an aging American population.

Dr. Julienne Greer, an Associate Professor of Social Robotics and Performance, says they are using something called, participatory art to help robots interact with senior citizens.

Participatory art is described as a type of exercise with emphasis on fine arts.

The content of the art is said to enhance a person’s cognitive skills, as well as offer companionship for older adults.

UTARI researchers have taught their robot to recite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 along with a human.

“We want the older adults to feel engaged in an art form,” said Professor Greer. “We are very hopeful the same positive results that happen in human to human model will happen with the human to robot model.”

Jo Cohenour, 78, participated in the robot demonstration.

She recited the Shakespeare sonnet with the robot and said, “He just seems real.”

Cohenour said she can see how a companion, even if it’s via artificial intelligence, can be useful to older adults who feel lonely.

“Some people have home health (workers) come in for a while and then they leave then they have no one, so this would be awesome.”

The interdisciplinary researchers who are studying the robots functions say the next step is to take the robot to senior living facilities and have the robot interact with residents and collect additional data.

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