Robots: Companions for the Elderly?

Intuition Robotics recently announced their latest robot that seeks to enhance the quality of life for the elderly population. This AI-based robot companion – ElliQ – is unique in that it “seamlessly enables older adults to use a vast array of technologies, including video chats, online games and social media to connect with families and friends and overcome the complexity of the digital world.” the difference between ElliQ and existing robot friends (such as Amazon Echo) is that it is elder-user-friendly in that it features a much more “natural feel” for the user. As Fuseproject CEO Yves Béhar (the design studio that helped the ElliQ development pointed out), “through years of research, we were able to develop a design language and user experience that feels natural, with subtle expressions to develop a unique bond between ElliQ and its owner.”

At first glance it does not seem that robots are synonymous with the elderly. And that is why there was substantial laboring research required for the robot. Béhar added that while of course such a robot cannot replace real human interaction, it can certainly “offer a companion to elderly people living alone.” Given that UK statistics from Age U.K. indicate that close to 50% of those 75+ live alone (with a third reporting that they may not even speak to one person daily), the aim – as articulated by Intuition Robotics CEO and founder Dor Skuler, is to “empower older adults to intuitively interact with technology and easily connect with content and loved ones, and pursue an active lifestyle [rendering the robot] part communication coordinator, part arbiter of lifelong learning and part coach.”

The robot is easy to talk to, operate and “intelligently” comprehends the user.