While much of human-robot interaction research focuses upon people interacting with autonomous robots, there is also much to be gained from exploring human interpersonal interaction through robots. The current study focuses on mobile remote presence (MRP) systems as used by a population who could potentially benefit from more social connectivity and communication with remote people — older adults. Communication technologies are important for ensuring safety, independence, and social support for older adults, thereby potentially improving their quality of life and maintaining their independence . However, before such technologies would be accepted and used by older adults, it is critical to understand their perceptions of the benefits, concerns, and adoption criteria for MRP systems. As such, we conducted a needs assessment with twelve volunteer participants (ages 63-88), who were given first-hand experience with both meeting a visitor via the MRP system and driving the MRP system to visit that person. The older adult participants identified benefits such as being able to see and be seen via the MRP system, reducing travel costs and hassles, and reducing social isolation. Among the concerns identified were etiquette of using the MRP, personal privacy, and overuse of the system. Some new use-cases were identified that have not yet been explored in prior work, for example, going to museums, attending live performances, and visiting friends who are hospitalized. The older adults in the current study preferred to operate the MRP themselves, rather than to be visited by others operating the MRP system. More findings are discussed in terms of their implications for design
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