In her spacious apartment in ‘t Haarhuus in Westerhaar she is happy to give a demonstration. Care robot Anne is very capable. She reads bits of the regional newspaper to Mrs. Nijboer and tells her when she has an appointment at the doctor. “In a while, I will also be able to give Anne the assignment to call one of my children, with my voice.” Mrs. Nijboer has lived most of her live in Sibculo. Together with her husband Jan she raised seven children there. Now she has 22 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. “I’m not sure about that last one. I’ve lost count a bot.” In 2007 she had a brainstem infarction and thereby lost coordination of the left side of her body. She does not see well either and has glasses with a magnifying glass. And even though she has a lot of family, her world has become a lot smaller because of it. Recently, care robot Anne came to live with her, in her apartment. Easy does it, because the care robot does not take up a lot of space. The netbook fits right in the windowsill.
Mrs. Nijboer is a ‘lab rat’ when it comes to way the care robot works. “Why they asked me? I like new things and like to keep up with the times. Here they know I do”, she says. She is happy to demonstrate the way the care robot works. She bends over and with loud voice says: “Listen Anne, open the agenda!” The friendly woman inside the netbook lives up. The icon of her agenda is opened. “Can I help you with anything?”, Anne asks. “When do I have to go see the cardiologist?”, Mrs. Nijboer asks her. The answer comes without any hesitation: “Cardiologist. Wednesday June 8 at 3.30 pm.” “Well that’s good to know”, Mrs. Nijboer responds.
She comes up with another assignment for the care robot. “Hello Anne, open news!” The care robot hesitates for a moment. “Anne, open news!”, Mrs. Nijboer says a little firmer and a bit louder. That does the trick. The care robot tells her that the extreme weather in Twente is over and the yellow code has been withdrawn. “Read article 3”, Mrs. Nijboer says and the care robot immediately turns the page to the next article. “In Reutum they have replaced the lead of the church bell”, she is being read to.
Lydia Veneberg, activity supervisor at ‘t Haarhuus, Westerhaar, thinks that in future more people will make use of the care robots. “At the moment, we have two of them in use here at ‘t Haarhuus. We see the users really enjoy the care robot. We are trying to adapt the care robots to fit the individual’s wishes. Mrs. Nijboer likes to read the sports pages in the newspaper. The other users, a couple, like to engage in activities. I enter the customized data for them. It’s ideal. We want to see whether it would also be possible, in future, to use the robots in the distribution of medicine. For example, by giving a signal when it is time to take the medicine.”
‘Anne in Care’ is speech-operated, virtual assistant that can operate a computer, tablet or mobile phone. She is artificially intelligent and has been developed by the company Virtask. ‘Anne’ can make elderly life and living easier through the use of domotics (home automation). Care robot Anne’s purchase was made possible through the first innovation voucher by the council Twenterand. The voucher was requested by Tijhuis Totaalinrichting from Hengelo in partnership with ‘t Haarhuus in Westerhaar – Vriezenveesewijk.