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PolyU and NECHK Join Hands to Provide Interactive Social Robots for Older Adults and Caregivers

6 Oct 2022

Events School of Nursing

PolyU and NECHK have signed a MoU to provide intelligent interactive social robots for older adults.

The cooperation agreement was signed by Prof Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU and Ms Elsa Wong, Managing Director of NECHK.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NEC Hong Kong (NECHK) to provide intelligent interactive social robots for older adults and their caregivers. A series of research projects will also be carried out to investigate the effects of using social robots on managing self-care and to encourage older adults’ proactive engagement in interpersonal activities to foster a physically and mentally healthy life.

I believe that the collaboration between PolyU's School of Nursing and NECHK will provide innovative solutions for the ageing population and ageing-in-place trend.

Prof. Christopher CHAO

Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU

In cooperation with NECHK, Prof. Angela Yee Man LEUNG, Associate Head (Research) of the School of Nursing of PolyU, and her team from the School of Nursing have developed five social robots to provide companionship and support for the daily activities of older adults. The team will use the robots to conduct a series of research projects titled "Social Robots for Old Adults and Caregivers".

Prof. Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU, said, “PolyU is honoured to collaborate with NECHK, a leader in integrated IT and networking technologies that promote personal and community safety and improve quality of life. NECHK’s commitment is aligned with PolyU's ongoing endeavours to advance knowledge transfer and applied research to respond to societal needs. I believe that the collaboration between PolyU's School of Nursing and NECHK will provide innovative solutions for the ageing population and ageing-in-place trend.”

The first ongoing study is "The Presence of Humanoid Robots with Older Adults at Homes", which investigates whether older adults would accept and enjoy interacting with robots at home, and the preliminary effect of the robots on loneliness, cognition, medication adherence, and mental and social well-being. The AI robots in this study speak Cantonese for verbal interaction with the older adults. Their key features are human-machine intelligent interactions, including older adults’ verbal instructions to the robots, such as turning on the TV news channels or music players, or making phone calls to their family members and friends. Furthermore, at a scheduled time, the robots could give a warm and gentle reminder to older adults for some defined activities such as taking medication and having meals.

Ms Elsa WONG, Managing Director of NECHK, said, “NEC Social Robots are developed for elderly care services, particularly the ‘Companion Robot’ for people with dementia to improve their social interaction and communication, which can also decrease the workload of caregivers. The robot can communicate interactively in Cantonese with human-like expressions, and it can also provide personalised settings for the older adults with their personal preferences and usage habits, so as to provide humanised intelligent elderly care services.”

Prof. David SHUM, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of PolyU, said, “Hong Kong has the longest life expectancy in the world and is fast becoming a super-aged society. After they retire or their adult children leave home, many older adults tend to have less social contact and interaction, which can be detrimental to their physical and mental health in the long term. Thus, this new research collaboration between the School of Nursing and NECHK is a crucial step in investigating whether the use of technology in the form of social robots can help partially fill the gap of two-way interaction, which can also assist older adults in staying connected socially and maintaining good self-care.”

Ageing-in-place is well documented as the trend and solution for an ageing population. Prof. Leung believes that through the use of social robots, it will be possible to promote interpersonal communication and enhance the self-care ability of older adults living alone while helping them engage with the outside world. With the support of such innovative technology, older adults will be able to live healthily and independently and integrate into the community.

The cooperation agreement was signed by Prof. Christopher Chao, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU and Ms Elsa Wong, Managing Director of NECHK.

PolyU School of Nursing
The School of Nursing (SN) at PolyU is a diverse community of scholars and clinicians with a common goal: to pursue academic excellence of practical value in nursing and healthcare services. The research mission of SN is to advance evidence-based nursing practice for the optimal health and well-being of all people locally, nationally and internationally. SN conducts high-quality clinical and applied research in nursing and other health sciences, focusing on various topics such as ageing and health; family and community health; mental health care; and transitional, supportive and palliative care.

NEC Hong Kong (NECHK)
NEC Hong Kong Limited, established in 1984, has been rapidly expanding its activities to meet growing customer demands in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. As a leading information and communications technology provider, NECHK provides innovative solutions and infrastructure for creating social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.


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Ms Antonia Leung

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