Project CO-HUMANICS: Co-presence of people and interactive companions for seniors

The CO-HUMANICS project is being funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation as part of the "Breakthroughs 2020" funding program with up to 4.5 million EUR over the next five years. The Carl Zeiss Foundation has set itself the goal of creating scope for scientific breakthroughs (Website). As an excellent partner of 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.

Project duration: June 2021 - May 2026

Project description

Loneliness due to spatial distance and reduced mobility is a major challenge for older people. The aim of this research project is to enable senior citizens to communicate and interact with spatially distant relatives or friends in their homes as if they were on site (co-presence). Such co-presence can be realized through Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR), and robot-based telepresence techniques, in which spatially distant people are virtually present in a person's real environment. In this project we investigate both of these techniques via the use of 3D avatars (in the AR/MR solution) and assistance robots (in the robot-based telepresence).

An important aspect in CO-HUMANICS is the improvement of user experience and co-presence on the investigated AR/MR and robotics solutions. How can the environment, pose, language and facial expressions of the communicating parties be captured in such a way that their interaction feels as natural as possible? These and similar questions are analyzed in this research project.

The main target group of research in CO-HUMANICS will be senior citizens, i.e. people in the retirement age up to the older age groups, as well as their typical interaction partners. It is expected that the findings of CO-HUMANICS will also be applicable to other target groups and will generally lead to improved telepresence in professional/industrial environments as well.

Further information on the Webpage of the project: www.tu-ilmenau.de/co-humanics

Project staff and contact person: Stephanie Arevalo PhDM.Sc. Luljeta Sinani and M.Sc. Chenyao Diao