Written by Karon MacLean 

RESEARCH PROJECT: Touch Robots as Care Companions

Lead investigators/designated PI’s on this project

Karon MacLean 

Approval Date



Karon MacLean, who was leading this project, wants to continue to have this project “on hold” and revise re-engagement closer to fall 2022 when she might be able to recruit a new team. 

Researchers from the Sensory, Perception, and Interaction (SPIN) Lab started exploratory observations and interviews with Canuck Place staff to determine the feasibility of a design research project for touch-based interactive technologies. We want to include staff, volunteers, families, and patients in the design process in an empowering way. The intensive interaction techniques used by educational, music and recreation therapy staff at Canuck Place are key to our research. The interactive devices we design need to work within this context. We want to expand on the audio and vibrotactile devices already used at Canuck Place and to incorporate more sophisticated interaction technology. We want to work with staff, volunteers, families, and patients to develop scenarios, interaction types, and design directions to build prototypes and guide our design efforts.


  1. To understand how care activities at Canuck Place currently employ interactive technologies.
  2. To identify opportunities for supporting care activities with interactive technologies. 
  3. To employ a community-focused, co-design process to develop new types of interactive care activities.

There will be three-six design workshops to incorporate staff, volunteers, families, and patients into the design process (once every two weeks). For observations, researchers will occasionally attend outings, recreation and music therapy sessions, and school sessions to further inspect the intensive interaction process. Researchers will also interview staff, volunteers, patients, and families informally as part of observations, and, very occasionally, formally to explicate and confirm research findings.