Course of the WiMi-Care project

Term: November 2008 - October 2011

Below the various work packages and the planned course of the project are presented briefly:


Preparations for the analysis of needs and scenario development

In the first two months of the project duration the initially planned empirical research to evaluate the need has been prepared. This constitutes the basis for a user-oriented scenario development, which in turn is the basis for a need oriented technology development. An intensive coordination between the partners, who are participating in the project (Fraunhofer IPA, MLR-System GmbH, User Interface Design GmbH and University of Duisburg-Essen), as well as a useful classification of the different objectives, perspectives and expertises is needed. In addition, first arrangements with a care facility of the city of Stuttgart, where requirement analysis and pilot applications should take place, are made.


Development of application scenarios of service robotics in the care sector

Based on a typical working environment in a stationary care facility requirements and processes, which are supposed to be simplified by the application of service robotics are selected. The objective is to relieve the nursing staff from work and thereby to increase the quality of life of the residents. All processes are documented extensively by observations, group discussions and individual interviews with nurses, nursing care and home management, as well as with the residents. This documentation serves to specify necessary technology development in the form of scenarios implemented within the process of the project. Through a number of iterative loops these scenarios are summarized to more specific ones, which are used as a template for the future development of service robots (Care-O-bot® / Fraunhofer IPA and CASERO / MLR System GmbH).

The aim of this work package is the development of key components, which are required for the implementation of the selected application scenariosincluding both hardware and software components. Concerning the software development navigation, manipulation, human-robot-interaction, security, data collection and -fusion have to be considered particularly. Accessible interfaces are defined and provided for an easy integration and communication of software modules required for the scenarios. These enhancements should be investigated until the end of 2010.

Usability and user research for needs assessment and evaluation of service robotics applications, in the care sector

Simultaneously to ensure the usability of the developed prototypes for pilot applications, (expert) interviews conducted at an early stage assure that the considered solutions are as useful as possible and designed to the needs.

Knowledge transfer between industrial and service robotic applications in the care sector / knowledge transfer between service robotic development and users in the care sector

At the same time two work packages start examining the respective flow of knowledge. A central working hypothesis is the reasonable assumption that both fields benefit from an optimized knowledge transfer. While the first analysis focuses on the transfer of knowledge resources (e.g. technical components or specific know-how) from the industrial to the service sector, the second work package - which is already strongly linked with the needs analysis – investigates the processes of exchange between users and developers.
These work packages extend to the last phase of the project in 2011 and should lead to the generation of an exemplary Knowledge-Transfer Loop (see below).

Development of necessary technologies in accordance with the identified application scenarios

This work package aims at the development of technical key components, which are needed for the implementation of the selected application scenarios. It includes hardware as well as software components. Concerning the software development especially the areas of navigation, human-robot interaction, security, data collection have to be taken into account.


Pilot applications in accordance with identified use cases and technology evaluation

To achieve the highest possible usability, the implementation of usability tests in a nursing home is the main issue of this project. Within this process, the identified and defined scenarios are realized, tested in a laboratory, put into operation in a care facility, where they are implemented in close cooperation with the nursing staff. If necessary, further improvements are made, which are tested in a second pilot-test phase.

Interim evaluation

The experience of the pilot-testing phase(s) are evaluated in detail with all cooperation partners. The first step is a balance of all individual findings. Subsequently, the results are grouped, which will particularly be used for developing an overall Knowledge-Transfer Loop.

Intermediate Workshop

The scientific and technological developments offer potential for short-, medium- and long-term product development. The development status, the availability of technology and the methods of knowledge transfer should be made accessible to the public. Results following from the original project experiences are supposed to be available for the sectors and actors concerned at an early stage.
The intermediate workshop focuses on the experiences of a needs-orientated technology development for the care sector. Thus discussions on the potential of scenario-based planning and implementation of technical innovations will be part of the agenda.


Business models for microelectronic applications using the example of service robotics in the care sector

Referring to an ideal development process of need oriented robotics for the care sector, the main focus at this point is on the concrete operationalization and grouping of the general results. Furthermore transferable principles and recommendations are extracted and presented exemplarily.

Modeling of a Knowledge-Transfer Loop to develop innovative microsystem technology in the care sector using the example of service robotics applications

Besides the concrete development of products (service robots) in the care sector and the development of adequate tools for the user and usability research, this section represents the aim of WiMi-Care: In order to improve the successful and user oriented development of service robotics, the identified findings of the investigations of the “knowledge transfer between industrial robotic applications and service robotic applications in the care sector” as well as the “knowledge transfer between development of service robotics and users in the service sector” are merged together. Thereby concrete evidence for an active creation of the future care sector involving all key actors (developers and users) should be gained and therefore contribute to a user oriented technology development.

Final workshop

The final workshop deals with the practical experience, the pilot phase and thus the use of service robots in a care facility. In this context a first empirical stock is taken: With the help of the gained project experience and findings the conditions for successful need oriented technology development in the care sector based on scenario-based planning and implementation should be presented.

Schematic representation of the project progress