New York is deploying robot friends for the elderly
Future. Through a new partnership with Intuition Robotics, New York state is taking care of its elderly by giving them a free robot. Dubbed the ElliQ, the robot is meant to be a constantly “friendly presence” to fight against isolation and promote independence. As A.I.-powered tech becomes better at understanding human cues, it may actually become crucial to helping curb a loneliness epidemic in an increasingly digital world.
Plug in and hang out
According to Input, New York is guaranteeing companionship with its new partnership with Israel-based Intuition Robotics.
- The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) is giving out 800 of Intuition Robotics’ flagship product — the ElliQ.
- The ElliQ is a desktop robot“programmed to interact with users using natural speech patterns, rather than simply listening for a preset list of commands.”
- The goal is to encourage the elderly — typically the most isolated in society — to “set goals, play cognitive games, and exercise both their bodies and minds.”
- The ElliQ also acts as a smart assistant that can book rideshares, order food, set reminders, host video calls, and alert loved ones in case of an emergency.
The best part is that the ElliQ is simple to use — it can connect with every other smart device in the home, providing a one-stop shop for all of a person’s tech needs.
You got a friend in me
Greg Olsen, the director of NYSOFA, said that the ElliQ does so many things to improve health, combat isolation, and improve overall well-being and independence.” Case managers at the agency will approve requests for a free ElliQ, while reps at Intuition Robotics will handle installation and training.
Considering that, in 2017, the U.S. Surgeon General warned that social isolation is a national epidemic that costs Medicare about $6.7 billion every year, the robots are much more than just an empathetic gift from the state. In short, these robots could be a key tool for improving quality of life.