Griffith academics awarded for media contributions

Professor Wendy Moyle with Gerry the robot

Griffith Health Institute’s Professor Wendy Moyle is one of eight academics celebrated this week for her outstanding performance as a Griffith University media star.

The director of the Centre for Health Practice Innovation said she was delighted to receive the accolade which is awarded to an academic from each group, for raising the University’s profile and reputation through media engagement and public commentary. Others also awarded for outstanding media work include:

  • Dr Paul Williams – Humanities
  • Professor Scott Harrison- Creative Arts
  • Professor Andrew O’Neil – Griffith Business School (and Asian engagement)
  • Professor Michael Blumenstein – Griffith Sciences
  • Dr Matthew Burke – Research
  • Shannon Kelin – Outstanding media work by a PhD Candidate

Professor Moyle has been widely publicised in the media for her research into how robots can help people with dementia.

In 2012, she began work on the use of new telepresence robot technology.

Designed to facilitate a conversation between the person with dementia and their family members, the robots — affectionately called names such as “Gerry” and “Louise” — are akin to “Skype on wheels”.

This is due to their human head-sized screen which displays the face of the user using Skype technology and records the two-way conversation. This allows the research team to make use of advanced Face Reader software which records and measures the emotional
responses of the person with dementia.

Late in 2013, Professor Moyle received a cash boost of over $1m from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to prove even further, the benefits and cost-effectiveness of animal robots in the treatment of dementia.

She showed that contact with a robotic seal “Paro” created many positive benefits for elderly dementia patients, including lowered anxiety and a decreased tendency to wander.

The professor now plans is now conducting a large-scale study which will provide a thorough evaluation of the Paro’s benefits and dispel any doubts that may have been displayed about the research so far.