Wednesday, April 22, 2020

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Charles River Analytics Inc., developer of intelligent systems solutions, has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop Socially-Assistive Robots for Alzheimer’s (SARA). SARA enhances the connectedness, caregiving, well-being, and quality of life for adults with early- to middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s related dementias, and their caregivers.

According to NIH experts, more than 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, an irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually impairing the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks.

"Individuals with Alzheimer’s, even the early stages, often experience loneliness and social isolation – and so do their caregivers,” explained Caroline Kingsley, Scientist at Charles River Analytics. “SARA leverages the latest research in social robotics and AI to increase connection and quality of life, and reduce social isolation.”

The SARA social robotic platform uses QTrobot

Our SARA software and hardware architecture runs on LuxAI’s QTrobot for Research platform.

SARA is designed to mitigate loneliness through proactive, embodied social interactions that connect individuals more closely with family, friends, and the community—both directly and through social media. SARA provides:

  • Reminders and prompts for everyday information that is easily forgotten by patients
  • Health regimens for meals, exercise, and other daily living tasks
  • Remote monitoring by caregivers

Our work on SARA follows a co-creation approach by directly involving individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers in the design process through focus groups and interviews. We are focused on utility, usability, accessibility, and acceptability for this target population to help facilitate adoption and improve health outcomes. SARA includes both software and hardware augmentations to improve interaction.

SARA is built on Hap, our AI-based architecture that enables engaging, believable, and effective interactions. SARA extends our research and development on healthcare support and training over the last decade. Since 2009, we have announced multiple medical contract awards, including medical training systems, a smoking cessation system, and AI-enabled patient support online communities.

Contact us to learn more about SARA and our other healthcare support and training capabilities.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43AG066288. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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