Interactive play for elderly people

Modular robotics enhance the contact between therapists and elderly people with severe senile dementia.

Researchers from the Center for Playware and the University of Siena in Italy, have cooperated on developing a new tool for non-verbal communication, which will help therapists maintain contact with patients who have lost the ability to engage in normal social interaction because of senile dementia.

The aid is a set of Rolling Pins with radio communication and motion sensors. They are activated by simple rolling movements, and the sensors transform direction and speed to clear communicative signals as light, sound and vibrations, which the patient can see, hear and feel.

The unique element of the Rolling Pins is their ability to communicate with each other via local radio contact. In therapy sessions they are often used in sets of two in order to affect each other with signals, and thereby create social interaction between the therapist and the patient on a basic level.

By using radio communication the Rolling Pins are also able to influence other interactive aids or the entire therapy room, e.g. change the color of the light.

Rolling Pins are not used as therapy by themselves, but as facilitators for social dynamics during ordinary therapy. They help break the social isolation that patients with severe senile dementia often experience due to the loss of social abilities.
26 FEBRUARY 2020