The independence of people who need help with daily activities will become of vital importance to all societies in the future. This paper addresses the problem of controlling the assistive home environment and emphasizes human-friendly human-machine interactions in an approach designed to achieve independence. To provide residents with an accessible, convenient, and cost-effective environment for independent living, we introduce a new service robot, categorized as a steward robot, as an intermediate agent between residents and their complex smart house environment. The learning capability and emotional interaction of the robot can make it more human-friendly in various tasks. A learning system enables the robot to provide customized services by accumulating knowledge of the user's behavioral patterns in daily activities. An emotional interaction system generates facial expressions to communicate with the user in a human-friendly manner. We have developed two types of a steward robot: a software type, which can be used everywhere via personal computing devices such as a PDA and a cellular phone, and a hardware type, which provides tangible services with physical interaction via two robotic arms and a mobile base.