CO-Humanics project started
In a research project that has just been approved, the Technische Universität Ilmenau will develop state-of-the-art methods to enable elderly people to socially interact with familiar people who are spatially separated from them in their home environment. These persons - relatives or friends, but also medical or nursing staff - will be "projected" into the environment as if they were there themselves using novel technical methods. The project is being funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with up to 4.5 million euros over the next five years.
Elderly people in particular often find it difficult to maintain regular social contacts. After their working lives, contacts with colleagues break off, children and relatives live far away, and for health reasons it gets more difficult for them to visit other people. In addition, the Corona pandemic is currently also limiting the ability of elderly people to maintain contact with relatives and acquaintances.
In the research project CO-HUMANICS ("Co-Presence of Humans and Interactive Companions for Seniors"), an interdisciplinary research team from TU Ilmenau and the Thuringian Center for Learning Systems and Robotics will develop technical solutions to integrate remote persons into the home environment as if they were there themselves starting in 2021. The spokesperson for the research team is Alexander Raake, Professor of Audiovisual Technology at TU Ilmenau. Based on augmented reality technologies, the team is developing innovative communication channels that make the "connected" persons appear much more present to the elderly as realistic representations than is the case with conventional telephone calls or video conversations. For example, they can turn to face their conversation partners if they are appropriately spatially represented. The so-called co-presence is not intended to serve as a substitute for interpersonal contact, but rather to promote and improve existing bonds with familiar people across distances. In addition to the new augmented reality technologies, the CO-HUMANICS project also aims to develop technical assistance systems for the elderly that help them communicate with relatives or even medical caregivers at a distance and receive assistance. These robots would be able, for example, to provide concrete assistance in operating technical equipment or to place an interlocutor in an optimal position for talking to the senior citizen. With the help of both systems - augmented reality and robotics - elderly people can communicate with people close to them in their home environment and receive assistance with actions of daily living. The CO-HUMANICS project is being funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation as part of the "Breakthroughs 2020" funding program with up to EUR 4.5 million over the next five years. The Carl Zeiss Foundation has set itself the goal of creating scope for scientific breakthroughs. As a partner of excellent science, it supports both basic research and application-oriented research and teaching in the STEM disciplines (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, and technology). Founded in 1889 by the physicist and mathematician Ernst Abbe, the Carl Zeiss Foundation is one of the oldest and largest private science-funding foundations in Germany. It is the sole owner of Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG. Its projects are financed from the dividend distributions of the two foundation companies.
Prof. Alexander Raake
Head of Audiovisual Technology
+49 3677 69-1468