Participatory Design, Development, and Testing of Assistive Health Robots with Older Adults: An International Four-year Project

Norina Gasteiger, Ho Seok Ahn, Christopher Lee, Jongyoon Lim, Bruce A. MaCdonald, Geon Ha Kim, Elizabeth Broadbent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Participatory design includes stakeholders in the development of products intended to solve real-life challenges. Involving end users in the design of robots is vital for developing effective, useful, acceptable and user-friendly products that meet expectations, needs, and preferences. This four-year international project developed and evaluated a home-based robot for mood stabilization and cognitive improvement in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and age-related health needs. The daily-care robot was developed in collaboration with experts, carers, relatives, and older adults, through six phases. Two phases were dedicated to cognitive stimulation games. This paper provides a summary of the participatory design and mixed-methods evaluation processes undertaken to develop, refine, and test the robot. The final robot and games were acceptable to older adults, and useful for delivering stimulating activities and providing reminders for medication, health and wellbeing checks. Personalization is required to optimize human-robot interaction, and imagery and speech should be consistent with local users. Functions should be personalizable to accommodate individual health needs and preferences. This project highlights the importance of participatory design and testing robotics in end-user environments, as technical issues associated with long-term use were uncovered. Recommendations for future development and the design of assistive health robots are made.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 8 Sep 2022


  • assistive robots
  • cognitive robots
  • gerontechnology
  • HCI design and evaluation methods
  • human computer interaction (HCI)
  • Human-centered computing
  • human-robot interaction
  • Participatory design
  • usability testing
  • user perspective


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