Smart Companion

Using everyday low-cost robot sensors and smart speech recognition in assistance services for elderly people


Rising life expectancy leads to a higher number of elderly people. The potential of intelligent technical systems, which are already increasingly penetrating our living environment, can be used for autonomous and self-determined living. Although networked devices such as speech assistants and (household) robotics are often a challenge for older generations in terms of interaction, it is precisely this target group that can benefit greatly from these opportunities. 

Vacuum cleaning robots are among the most accepted robot systems – they accounted for around 80% of household robots in Austria in 2016. As they offer more freedom in everyday life, acceptance among senior citizens is extremely high. For this reason, vacuum cleaning robots are an ideal medium for the development of comprehensive assistance systems. Method
Autonomous low-cost robotic sensor technology is combined with smart voice interaction for assistance systems. The system actively engages users with appropriate questions and information on selected health and social topics. For example, Smart Companion asks the user if everything is OK and, if necessary, triggers an alarm in case of a suspected fall – based on a floor map created by the vacuum cleaner robot.

The Smart Companion project sets three objectives: 

1.Implementation and evaluation of the Smart Companion Demonstrator 

Together with the project partner Robert Bosch AG, the solution and software architecture will be optimised in terms of economic feasibility. Through a user centered design approach, the scenario is iteratively implemented, engaging test users throughout the whole process and with the expertise of the Academy for Aging Research at “Haus der Barmherzigkeit”. The goal is to demonstrate at least 5 scenarios classified as (very) useful according to the Technology Acceptance Model. 

2. Additional validation of the demonstrator with focus groups 

Using everyday technology, the availability, costs and acceptance of the system can be reliably assessed. The demonstrator is additionally validated with 3 focus groups (senior citizens, social and care services, relatives). The validation is based on usefulness to lay the basis for follow-up projects for the implementation of such systems together with economic partners. 

3. Privacy and Ethics 

With the increasing penetration of our living and living environment by intelligent technical systems, various ethical and data protection issues arise. In order to take these issues into account, there is an ethics board from the outset. A guide is created, with the ultimate goal of providing an opportunity for self-informed decisions.


  • Akademie der Altersforschung am Haus der Barmherzigkeit
  • Robert Bosch AG
BMVIT - benefit - Demografischer Wandel
11/01/2019 – 10/31/2021
Involved Institutes, Groups and Centers
Center for Digital Health and Social Innovation
Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research
Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies
Research Group Digital Technologies
Research Group Media Computing