[Hong Kong, 22 November 2020] To cater to the needs of the elderly in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) is developing a smart companion pet dog which can chat in Cantonese and Mandarin and can even remind the elderly to take their medicine when the Bluetooth function is enabled. The smart pet dog is expected to be launched in phases next year, and is expected to sell for less than HKD 1,500 each. Eligible local elderly and rehabilitation service units can apply to the Social Welfare Department for the “Innovation and Technology Fund for Application in Elderly and Rehabilitation Care” and get subsidies for their purchase.
ASTRI introduced the smart pet dog during the four-day Gerontech and Innovation Expo cum Summit 2020 from 19 – 22 November.
ASTRI has been applying its cutting-edge technology and innovation to address pain points in our society. This smart pet dog can support elderly care as Hong Kong faces challenges associated with an ageing population.
Mr. Fanky Yau, project coordinator and Associate Principal Engineer at ASTRI, said that through the subsidy of Innovation and Technology Fund for Application in Elderly and Rehabilitation Care provided by the Social Welfare Department, ASTRI introduced the smart pet dog which originally had Japanese language capabilities to Hong Kong with a view to enhancing and localising it to suit the needs of the elderly here. About 200 to 300 sets of Cantonese and Putonghua dialogues will be added to the smart pet dog so that it can “listen” to the elderly in Hong Kong and the Mainland and respond accordingly. Such response can include caring and greeting the host, as well as greeting and talking in a cute manner. At the beginning of next year, the team will collaborate with the Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service to arrange smart pet dogs to be companions for hundreds of elderly people who live alone and stay in day care centres, community centres and elderly homes to better understand the needs of the elderly in Hong Kong and optimise their conversations.
Mr Yau said already a company has indicated interest in commercialising the smart pet dog. It is expected to be sold in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and other parts of China in phases from mid-2021 onwards, he added.
ASTRI will further incorporate Bluetooth functions for the smart pet dog to enhance its functionality. “The caregiver will only need to enter the medication time for the elderly through a mobile app, then the smart pet dog will remind the elderly to take the medication on time and will also ask if they have taken them, and finally report back to the caregiver through the app,” he said.
He also said that other organisations can develop more applications in the future based on ASTRI’s application programming interface. And through Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), one can further enhance the functions of the smart pet dog, such as continuously monitoring and analysing the responses and the speed of speech of the elderly while chatting, thus enabling social workers and family members to better understand the elderly’s health status.
SmartPet_01：ASTRI Associate Principal Engineer Mr. Fanky Yau hopes that the smart pet will be popular in the community.
SmartPet_02：ASTRI staff members introduce the smart pet to visitors of the Gerontech and Innovation Expo cum Summit 2020.