Rapid demographic change constitutes an unprecedented societal challenge for Japan. I will shed light on the issues of Japan’s super-aging society and introduce the human-robot interaction work package of our ongoing EC Horizon 2020 project “CARESSES”, aiming at developing culturally competent elderly care robots, jointly commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan. We envision a future where socially assistive robots are able to interact with the elderly with different cultural and personality traits through personalized emotion generation and facial/vocal/body expression. Specifically, robots are able to autonomously re-configure their way of acting and speaking, when offering a service, to match the culture, customs, and etiquette of the person they are assisting. By designing robots that are more sensitive to the user’s needs, our innovative solution will offer elderly clients a safe, reliable, and intuitive system to foster their independence and autonomy, with a greater impact on the quality of life, a reduced caregiver burden, and improved efficiency and efficacy. I will share some of our preliminary results of multi-modal human-robot interaction and explore opportunities for future collaboration with people from diverse social and cultural groups. Furthermore, I will introduce a smart ICT environment testbed iHouse, and a user speech activated interface to enable an off-the-shelf robot to gain control over the iHouse devices and functions and provide data through verbal interaction with the user. I am hoping to discuss the technical feasibility of a robotic smart care home interface toward supporting the independent living of the elderly.
Nak Young Chong is a Professor in Intelligent Robotics at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), Japan. He received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea, in 1987, 1989, and 1994, respectively. From 1994 to 2007, he was a member of the research staff at Daewoo Heavy Industries and KIST in Korea, and MEL and AIST in Japan. In 2003, he joined the faculty of JAIST, where he currently is a Professor of Information Science. He also served as Vice Dean for Research and Director of the Center for Intelligent Robotics at JAIST. He was a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Genoa, and Carnegie Mellon University, and also served as an Associate Graduate Faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, International Scholar at Kyung Hee University, and Distinguished Invited Research Professor at Hanyang University. He serves as Senior Editor of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters and Springer Intelligent Service Robotics, Topic Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, and served as Senior Editor of IEEE ICRA CEB, and IEEE CASE CEB, and Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and many other journals. He served as Program Chair/Co-Chair for JCK Robotics 2009, ICAM 2010, IEEE Ro-Man 2011, IEEE CASE 2012, IEEE Ro-Man 2013, URAI 2013/2014, DARS 2014, ICCAS 2016, and IEEE ARM 2019. He was a General Co-Chair of URAI 2017 and serving as General Chair of UR 2020. He also served as Co-Chair for IEEE-RAS Networked Robots Technical Committee from 2004 to 2006, and Fujitsu Scientific System Working Group from 2004 to 2008.