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An Active Aging Companion

A robotic companion aimed to keep older adults connected, active, engaged and healthy using an array of technologies.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

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Loneliness and social isolation are common experiences for many older adults.     These experiences have negative effects on their health and well being.  An Israeli start-up is tackling this problem by developing an active aging robotic companion.   This companion 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.  intuitionrobotics.com

A prototype robotic companion, ElliQ, was presented at London's Design Museum in January 2017.  In February a Live Demo was shared at the OurCrowd Global Summit.  The prototype is currently in trials.


             ElliQ Live Demo Presentation - OurCrowd Global Investor Summit



PRESS

Jerusalem Post

Multiple press links at the Intuition Robotics website.



What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Might a robotic companion also be a tool to prevent falls?

Ideas:
Periodically prompt users to check for safety issues at home? Connect users to neighbors/family to get real world support for safety issues that arise?
Motivate users proactively to exercise and create a way for one to do so virtually with friends?

What are your ideas?

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Photo of Mariah Burton Nelson

This is so exciting. Thanks, Dr. Fliegel! My 93-year-old mother lives with her husband in a robust assisted living setting - yet, as an extreme extrovert who is very weak and wheelchair bound, she still struggles with loneliness. She also struggles with technology.

I can envision her adapting well to ElliQ's voice-activated interface, and the companion screen that would load images and video conferences for her, without her having to more than verbally assent. She would feel relieved that she need not read screens, touch screens, or figure anything out.

While I cringe at the concept of supplying lonely people with robots instead of people (an old story by Claude Steiner about warm fuzzies vs. cold pricklies comes to mind) I see this not as a substitute for people, but as a valuable supplement that would enhance existing relationships and create a new one. Mom has a nice sense of humor too; she would get a kick out of her "new friend."

And as for balance or even strength/stretching exercises - yes/maybe to that. My mother and late father both responded well to physical therapy, but it had to be one-on-one; they couldn't seem to initiate such activities on their own. A robot might be able to lead seniors through some exercises - with the huge caveat that those seniors shouldn't be lulled into thinking they have human supervision when they do not.

Perhaps it would only work with highly physically capable seniors who have never fallen, but are instead preventing falls via improved balance, strength, etc. - those who might use exercise videos or TV, but would enjoy a more personalized, customized approach, as prescribed by an exercise specialist who would design and oversee a series of exercises for them.

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