Challenge 1

How can flowerpot robot Tessa be used as effectively as possible in the care of Korsakoff syndrome?

BrabantZorg is a large health care institution with 35 locations throughout North-East Brabant. They offer a complete package of care for the elderly—from dementia care to rehabilitation—on location and at clients' homes.

Two years ago, BrabantZorg started a pilot in the home care region Oss. Flowerpot robot Tessa* was used in the home situation to provide structure, especially for clients with early onset dementia. The results were mixed; many elderly people reacted positively to the talking flowerpot, but for some it was somewhat alienating or frightening.

Now, BrabantZorg wants to know what the added value of Tessa is for other target groups. For example, for people suffering from Korsakoff syndrome, a target group for whom memory loss is a common phenomenon.

* Flowerpot robot Tessa is a kind of egg-shaped device of 30 cm high that is able to play music and to give messages and reminders through the internet in speech mode. The top of the robot, which is dressed with a kind of jacket and hat, offers space for a plant, which makes the whole thing mostly look like a talking flowerpot. It is intended for patients with dementia who are still able to communicate verbally with such a device.

The makers of Tessa proceed from the assumption that people with dementia no longer have a good grip on events in the past and those to come. With the robot, they want to give the patient some structure in their lives by announcing activities, such as medication intake and visits by care providers or family members.

There are no arms or legs on Tessa, but there are two eye-like lights. It is equipped with at least one microphone and a loudspeaker. It is operated from a smartphone, tablet, or PC. It means that Tessa is connected to the internet via Wi-Fi. Tessa can play a preset list of songs. The robot responds to the patient's answers when it asks a question about playing music. The messages that Tessa says out loud can be typed in on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, after which the robot says the message at the desired moment or with the desired repetition. That does not make Tessa much different from a ventriloquist robot.