COIN: Co-adaptive Human-Robot Interactive Systems (2018 - now)

Funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) - 2016-2021

COIN is a project that aims at developing a systematic, bidirectional short and long-term adaptive framework to yield safe, effective, efficient, and socially acceptable robot behaviors and human-robot interaction. Within this project, my task is to develop novel paradigms of human-robot affective co-adaptation (i.e., the bidirectional process of adaptation of a robot to the states of humans) to apply to educational scenarios.

ENGAGE-DEM: A Model of Engagement of People with Dementia (2014 - 2018)

Funded by the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate (EMJD) programme in Interactive and Cognitive Enviroments (ICE) - FPA n. 2010-2012

Within this project, I developed a model of engagement for people with dementia based on non-verbal behavior and psychophysiology. Such a model can be used to measure the inherent engagement of people with dementia during activities (e.g., interactions with social robots) in an exhaustive way and to assess the progression of engagement over the duration of an activity. The model’s overarching ambition is to lay the foundations for the automatic recognition of engagement in people with dementia. The achievement of such a milestone could bring to the design of robotic and interactive technologies able to recognize the engagement state of the person with dementia online and adapt accordingly.

Social Robots Supporting Narratives in People with Dementia (2012 - 2013)

In collaboration with the Robotics and Learning Technologies Lab of the University of Siena

For my Master’s thesis, I devised a semi-experimental study aimed at evaluating whether a social robot, the arctic seal PARO, could have a positive influence on the narrative capability of elders affected with dementia. The study followed a repeated measures design, and participants were asked to create stories in two conditions, with the help of static images (i.e., pictures) and with the robot. The sessions with the social robot showed an increase in positive affect (i.e., decrease in the occurrence of challenging behaviors and increase in happiness) and social interaction (i.e., higher number of questions and interactions with others). Moreover, the stories created with the robot were twice as long as those created with the pictures, and more autobiographical.

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