Being faced with a quickly aging society the question how to maintain and regain independence at an advanced age becomes increasingly relevant. Being short-handed with nursing staff technological solutions are gaining more importance. This is where AMICO comes in: it helps the elderly by supporting them in their daily life, offering them the possibility to live independently furtheron. Cherishing the designers' ethical and social responsibility, the intention of this device is not to replace nursing staff or take any activities from the elderly which they are still able to carry out on their own. Instead, we strived to create a product that integrates in their everyday life, helping them to carry out upcoming tasks. Visits to retirement homes and assisted living institutions, and interviews with staff and residents strongly influenced the development of AMICO. The result is a robotic arm in a simple design that integrates well in different environments. Due to its small size and compact stowage, it is a discrete and elegant device that does not stigmatize.
The name AMICO is abreviation and stands for "assistant mobile intelligent companion". It is a robotic arm designed to help all people who are in need for a "third arm" and especially older people. The "AMICO seat" can replace the original walking frame seat, making it possible to install AMICO on a large variety of walking frames. The seat also contains the rechargeable batteries. In its basic configuration, AMICO is attached to a walking frame.
More components and how to switch between them
The different concept expansions can be adopted on a mobile platform, on wall rails and on a docking station making AMICO attractive to various target groups.
AMICO can switch between the different concept expansions by itself: from "walking frame" to "dining table".
Hence, the user does not have to carry any weight.
Design and technology
The basic technology for the inside of the arm has already been developed as well: it is based on the Myorobotics System. The flexible and light-weight system works with cable pulls. We developed a 7 degrees of freedom arrangement and adapted some of the MYO elements allowing a cleaner design.
Moreover, the casing is also the supporting structure where the technological elements are attached to. This concept safes material and makes the design of AMICO small and compact.
To make sure that AMICO is absolutely safe to use, sensors responding to touch are integrated in the arm. Thus, AMICO stops immediately if it is touched or touches anything while moving.
With regard to the control of the arm, the needs of the elderly are especially taken into consideration. It offers both the possibility of auditive as well as visual controls so that users with impairments are not excluded. Moreover, control settings can be adapted individually so that they best suit personal preferences. The majority of the controls can be implemented with current technology, with the contemporary feasibility of AMICO being another important aspect.
In a nutshell, AMICO is safe and easy to use and helps to live independently as long as possible. It supports the user carrying out tasks that become increasingly difficult at a higher age - like carrying backs or doing the laundry - and therefore contributes to a self-determined life in the own home.