Aether™ Robot to Showcase at THE DATA EFFECT VANCOUVER In-Person Summit

VANCOUVER, BC, June 11, 2024 – Aether™ Robot, the groundbreaking collaborative service robot developed under the 3Spheres Robotics Project, is set to make a significant appearance at CityAge’s “The Data Effect: The Next Evolution in Health” summit in Vancouver on June 25, 2024. This event brings together top executives, researchers, and technology leaders to explore innovations in health data and AI.

About Aether Robot:

Aether™ is designed to assist people with developmental disabilities and older adults, enhancing their independence through three core functionalities:

  1. Autonomous Navigation: Facilitates independent movement in public indoor spaces.
  2. Client Monitoring and Inspection: Eases the workload of human caregivers by providing safety inspections.
  3. Social Interaction: Offers entertainment, helps manage anxiety-driven behaviors and coaches exercise routines.

Aether now features fully integrated voice interfaces powered by Chat GPT and visual interfaces with Vision GPT through advanced APIs. This integration enhances Aether’s capabilities in:

Aether has been deployed 24×7 at one of the group homes run by the Developmental Disability Association, since January 2024.  Residents enjoy talking and singing with Aether, with happy smiles and laughter brightening the faces of residents and caregivers alike. When asked about the experience, one resident says “I feel very happy from my heart and that [happiness] goes to everywhere in me.”

About the In-Person Summit:


The Data Effect summit will delve into how BC and Canada can harness health data platforms, innovative hospital designs, and cutting-edge research to establish a leading health science ecosystem. The event emphasizes the importance of quality data in advancing health services and positioning Canada as a global leader in health innovation.

Attendees will have the chance to explore the integration of AI and digital innovation with physical health spaces, a vision exemplified by the Aether Robot. This summit presents a unique platform for collaboration among health and life-science professionals, fostering advancements that will shape the future of health.

For event details and tickets, visit

Contact: Jon Morris, 3SRP Project Lead, Email:

DDA Annual Report Article – April 2019

In the 4th quarter of 2018, the 3Spheres Robotics Project team completed a 3-month, grant-funded, “focus group” study that compared and contrasted the robotics requirements for seniors living in eldercare rest homes with the requirements for people with developmental disabilities living in DDA group homes.  The study concluded that there are a lot of similarities and it suggested that we need to narrow our research and hypothesis testing to include 4 basic types of collaborative service robot:

To that end, we are planning a Minimum Viable Experiment (MVE) to test 1 or 2 of the above hypotheses and determine the essence of what our robot, known as “Aether™”, should do for DDA.

The research team has also been working on several new skills over the last year, all designed to support the “Minimum Viable Experiment” we are planning for 2019, including:

We look forward to demonstrating these new skills at the AGM!

The Case for Rehab/Concierge Robots… by Alanna Hendren

Recruitment and Retention

We cannot recruit and retain staff as service providers, which means that families have even more challenges recruiting.  For unionized agencies in B.C., generally the highest paying; 1/3 of community living agencies had turnover rates greater than 20% and just under 10% had turnover rates over 30%.  Younger people are particularly difficult to recruit.

Recruitment and retention of the community support labour force will not be improving in the future:

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recently reported on U.S. Direct Support Worker Tenure – 35% last less than 6 months; 22% last less than 6-12 months; 35% last over 12 months and 56% leave within the first year.  Federal policy changes similar to those in Canada and Australia increased demand without increasing funding (state budgets are shrinking, Medicaid is threatened by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act).

Population trends tell us that the potential workforce will get smaller as the need for services increases.  Wages are not commensurate with the responsibility involved:

Women aged 25-64 are the main demographic of DSP workers.  In the next decade, demand for DSPs will increase by 48% but only 2 million addition women 25-64 will enter the entire US labour force, down from 6.3 million in the early 2000’s.  This shortfall of potential workers will be a persistent challenge.  Increases in diagnoses (e.g. autism) and community-based services creates an escalating demand but there is a decreasing number of people to do the job and cuts in government  funding will create further decreases in wage rates, although many are already at minimum wage (and qualify for programs like food stamps that are also under threat of being cut).  There will be an increase in private (family) –pay but there won’t be anyone to hire unless these pay rates are much higher than at present.  Services provided by DSPs are labour intensive, with regulatory requirements mandating certain staffing levels.  Current job market entrants are not interested in high levels of responsibility, low-paying caregiving jobs or careers with no opportunities for future advancement.   These jobs:

The community living sector must also compete for employees with the following sectors (that all generally pay more):

Managed Care at Home

Forbes magazine recently noted that Long Term care is increasingly becoming managed care at home.  In 1965, Medicaid delivered long term care in nursing homes.  During the last ten years this has shifted to Home with community assistance.  A Kaiser Foundation study in 2013 noted that States now spent more long term care dollars in the community rather than in nursing homes.  Nursing homes are also shifting from long term care to post-acute care in convalescent homes.  Long term care rates have been kept so low for so long, though, that service providers can no longer stay in business.  Again, this leads to more home care.

A Conference Board of Canada report (2016) recently noted that by 2026, more than 2.4 million Canadians aged 65+ will require paid and unpaid continuing care supports.  This is a 71% increase over 2011.  By 2046, 3.3 million will need continuing care supports.  Spending growth will exceed the pace of revenue growth – from $28.3 billion in 2011 to $177.3 billion in 2046.  Two-thirds of this funding will come from the government (unless there are further funding cuts).

Labour demand to deal with this major increase in care needs will increase at a rate of 3.1% per year until 2026, then demand will increase to 3.7% annually from 2026 to 2036.  Afterwards, there will be a 1% per year annual growth rate in demand for caregivers.  The major jobs will be Home Health Care Aides and Personal Support Workers.  Issues for employers will be education, training, compensation, work environment, retention, recruitment and relationships with clients.

The report continues:  “Providing sustainable continuing care supports for older Canadians will require changes and new solutions”.

An estimated 5.3 million Canadians provided some level of unpaid continuing care to seniors in 2015.  By the year 2046, this number will increase to 11.6 million.  These ‘friends and family’ provided an average of 21.9 hours of help per week from an average of 5 different individuals.  This totals 1.2 billion hours of unpaid continuing care provided to seniors annually.  In addition to this, 62.5% of caregivers also pay privately for care for seniors while 100% of the public continuing care budget is spent annually, creating a huge demand for caregivers.  This creates major concerns about the potential labour pool available for such work.

Social Services Budget Cuts

After noting that the number of adults with developmental disabilities is increasing at the rate of about 6% per year, governments in Canada, the U.S.A., Australia and the U.K have been reducing and/or capping the amount of money available for support services.  The dramatic increase in the numbers of people with autism has contributed to this increase, which shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

In addition to the 6% increase in youth with developmental disabilities becoming adults, another area of growth is aging seniors.  For decades, parents of Baby Boomer children with developmental disabilities kept them at home, usually accessing day program or respite services, but otherwise providing 24/7 care at home.  Now these Baby Boomer children are becoming seniors themselves, many living with very elderly parents who will soon be unable to continue to provide support.

Because budget cuts and demand are outweighing supply, many adults currently sit on wait lists for service or may never be eligible for supports, which are not an entitlement but ‘voluntarily’ offered by the provincial government in B.C.  The situation in the U.S. is far worse – states like Ohio already have waitlists in excess of 40,000 per year and all funding comes through Medicaid, which is currently under threat from lawmakers who promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

This lack of government funding throughout Canada, the U.S., U.K., and Australia/New Zealand (and the much greater lack of services in Europe, China and the developing world) means that families of children with special needs are increasingly on their own.  This means that they must bear the extraordinary costs of raising children (often with severe health/physical needs as well as intellectual disabilities) far into adulthood, with no additional supports.  This is an expensive and exhausting proposition and often stunts the young adult’s opportunities to gain employment, develop their own social circle, learn how to use public transit, develop the skills necessary to live on one’s own and so on because they remain dependent on their parents.


A personal-service robot could help these families.  From waking a person up in the morning to managing their schedule and connecting them to the world, a personal service robot can become the repository of all information related to the individual, an organizer, a monitor, a teaching assistant at school or college, a teacher at home, an assistant at a job and problem solver/communicator everywhere.  If families are able to recruit a personal support worker for an individual, the cost would be about $50,000 to $60,000 per year for one staff to work 8 hours per day.  Some individuals have needs that require two or even three staff – making the annual cost in excess of $150,000 per year.  This is an extraordinary expense for all but the most affluent parents and prohibitive for most people.  With a personal service robot, the same outcome could be achieved with a capital investment that we hope would cost about $10,000, with upgrades perhaps every five years.

By implementing these robots in staffed programs for people with developmental disabilities, government could also save considerably while delivering potentially better outcomes, increasing both efficiency and effectiveness.


“Person-Centeredness” is a hallmark of social service delivery today, but home support and other workers often have little time to get to knowt he individual’s background, personal details, goals, interests, medications, communication styles or about their relationships with others.  Our robot is totally customized, loaded with each individual’s complete information, and can act as an assistant to any person – paid or unpaid, who is helping to support someone with vulnerabilities.  People would not receive “one-size-fits-all” services but unique, person-focussed attention that is driven by the individual’s needs, strengths and goals.  Areas where our robot could assist individuals are:

Technology can also:

Entertainment and Learning

Although our robot will be more of a concierge than a companion, people who are shut-in or alone can use internet connections, uploads and downloads to play games, take courses, ask for information, learn by trial-and-error, watch movies, listen to music or read a book with their robot assistant.