The Services of Electro-mechanical Care Agencies (SELEMCA) lab was a research facility in Amsterdam dedicated to exploring novel assistive technologies for groups such as elderly persons and people suffering from (mental) health disorders. More specifically, our mandate included the development of systems built around human interactions with robots, computer-based agents, and virtual worlds. We refer to these systems as Caredroids, devices or software that will provide a variety of medical services.

As traditional channels for secondary health care become scarcer due to aging populations and smaller family sizes, supplementing or replacing existing support networks with technology such as Caredroids will become increasingly critical. The increasing demand for care services cannot be solved by productivity improvements alone.

A new approach is the use of creative technological solutions to supplement and replace existing care-services. These solutions include agents, robots, ambient and virtual worlds; mechanotronic robots that we call Caredroids - Product-Service Systems (PSSs) that create a better fit between carer and patient. In SELEMCA, a PSS is a value proposition consisting of a marketable set of robots and avatars that provide services such as brokerage, coaching, tutoring, conversation, and companionship as related to healthcare. They were designed and combined to optimally fulfill healthcare needs from the perspectives of the patient, caretaker, care professional, and care managers. Clients may not attach particular value to the electro-mechanics or virtual environments themselves but rather to the functionality that robots and their digital counterparts offer. SELEMCA focused on care brokerage, exercise coaching, Q&A on wellbeing, companionship, and health education.

What questions were answered?
Teams from 3 universities and industry partners were working together to address the questions:

How do users of Caredroid experience these novel product-service combinations – both in terms of having humanoid company and as interactive healthcare tools?
How to improve the relationship between Caredroids and humans in terms of creativity and aesthetics?
How to establish trust in the application of Caredroids in the medical domain?

What have the teams achieved?
The team has established a transdisciplinary design theory of human-android interaction by investigating the human affective system and emotion regulation. This lead to the development of generic knowledge instruments and design guidelines to create care services that are emotionally intelligent and human-oriented.

Timeframe and communication:
SELEMCA started in 2011 and finished in 2015. The project generated innovative scientific knowledge in the forms of new learning technology facilitating brainstorming and problemsolving. Scientific output was distributed in journal publications and conference proceedings. Throughout the project, we have communicated information and results via this website.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, University of Twente, Inholland;
Creative and Industry partners: Osira, GermansMedia, IC3D Media, Roessingh Enschede, Aernout Mik, Waag Society, Lost Boys, Mentrum/Arkin, Appsterdam, Hanson Robotics.

Project leaders
Dr. Dr. Johan F. Hoorn, CAMeRA@VU


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