Research Output
Personification technologies: developing artificial companions for older people.
  This paper reports on the work of the UTOPIA project, a consortium of four Scottish universities concerned with technology issues for older people, focusing specifically on artificial companionship. The importance of companionship to the emotional and physical well-being of older people is assessed, and a brief history of the various artificial companions available is presented. How these examples inform companionship theory is discussed, with specific focus on the personification of technology and the concept of 'useful uselessness'. There is a report on a series of studies of older people and their interactions and attitudes to the Sony AIBO robot, and the concept of artificial companionship in general, as well as a Wizard of Oz scenario utilizing AIBO's wireless capabilities. The findings include the importance of macro functionality leading to an acceptance of potential utility, the role of perceived autonomy and proactive interaction. These issues are discussed along with their repercussions for the design and development of future personification technologies.

  • Date:

    30 April 2004

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Association for Computing Machinery

  • Library of Congress:

    QA76 Computer software

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    004 Data processing & computer science


Mival, O., Cringean, S., & Benyon, D. (2004). Personification technologies: developing artificial companions for older people. In CHI 2004 conference proceedings : Connect



virtual reality; companions; elderly; artificiality;

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