Robots could deliver home-care to aging populations

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"My name is Casper, an interactive, personal robot."

That's the greeting from the machine that's part computer and part Rosie, the robotic maid in the Jetson's cartoon.

It's a creation of researchers at the University of Toronto, who believe robots will help care for the world's aging population.

"When it's lunchtime, the robot will find you in your home and say 'Let's go to the kitchen," says  Professor Goldie Nejat of the University of Toronto.

She's one of around 150 researchers meeting in St. Petersburg at the annual world conference of the International Society for Gerontechnology. They're sharing ideas on how new technology can be used to help a growing population of older people to live independently in their own homes longer. 

Researchers at USF have been studying seniors at The Villages whose homes are outfitted with electronic sensors that trace their movements and their use of appliances, chairs, beds, and bathrooms.

Caregivers and even family members in other states can monitor them and be alerted to things like falls or changing sleeping, eating or bathroom habits.

Researchers say devices like Amazon's Alexa and home automation systems are being integrated into care systems, and that's bringing down prices.

Casper the robot isn't available to the public yet, but experts say it won't be long until robots are pressed into service to assist caregivers.

"We're trying to be here as these trends emerge so we'll be better prepared," says Dr. Bill Kearns, Ph.D. and president of the International Society for Gerontechnology.