Toshiba has two teams working on "home life support robots" designed to aid Japan's aging population. (Japan's population growth is near zero and its citizens' average age is climbing rapidly. The assumption is that by 2050, kids will be too few to care for their aging relatives.) One robot, which sounds rather useful, is designed to follow its owner in crowded shopping centers and caddy for him as he makes purchases. (Why this technology should be limited to the elderly I do not know.) Another can distinguish among multiple people's speech and act only on those orders that come from "its master's voice." (But on what those orders might be, I'm a little vague.)
Aging populations aren't an issue only in Japan--much of Western Europe is experiencing the same disturbing demographic trend. (It's ironic that fears of an exponential population explosion--which created so much angst in the late 20th century--have been replaced in some quarters by fears of an exponential population bust. You're never worried about the right thing...) Accenture Technology Labs is working on a variety of systems designed to help the elderly. One video analysis application scans streams from in-home cameras and detects when someone has fallen. (It would then call for emergency services.) Similar technology could detect strangers (potential intruders) or decreases in activity over time (indicative of physical decline) or possibly note an increasing tendency to cheat at bridge (indicative of improving mental faculties)--the sort of trends a human being might not notice, but that a constantly watching computer system could. For an overview of Accenture's take on the challenges and opportunities, check out Intelligent Home Services.