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‘Robbie’ the Robot learns to spot dementia by watching soap opera

A team led by an Indian-origin researcher has trained a robot to spot the signs of dementia by making it watch popular British soap opera, ‘Emmerdale’. Robbie, developed by researchers at Edge Hill University in the UK, watched over 13 episodes of ‘Emmerdale’, featuring the storyline of dementia sufferer Ashley Thomas. The researchers said that the robot can now spot signs of depression and aggressive behaviour.

Ardhendu Behera, who led the project, said that depression and aggressive behaviour are often the most upsetting and challenging symptoms for those closest to the person suffering from dementia. The researchers hope that other robots like Robbie will help people living with the neuro-degenerative condition.

Presently, the only ways to monitor and manage dementia is by direct observation which is labour intensive, time-consuming and can be costly from a care perspective. Robbie is the first robot to use vision-based recognition to spot behaviours that are associated with dementia.

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