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AI Companionship for Seniors: ElliQ, the Robot Alleviating Loneliness in Older Americans

by Anna

In an effort to address the pervasive issue of loneliness and isolation among older Americans, Intuition Robotics has introduced ElliQ, an artificial intelligence (AI) companion. Aimed at providing companionship and alleviating loneliness, ElliQ is designed to adapt to each senior’s personality and interests, offering a unique and personalized interaction.

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ElliQ resembles a small table lamp with an eyeless, mouthless head that lights up and swivels. Its functionality includes remembering users’ interests and conversations, tailoring future chats, telling jokes, playing music, and offering inspirational quotes. The device also provides virtual tours of cities and museums on an accompanying video screen, leads exercises, and serves as a reminder for health-related tasks such as medication intake and hydration.

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The device’s AI capabilities enable it to host video calls and act as an emergency contact, connecting with relatives, friends, or doctors. Importantly, Intuition Robotics emphasizes that none of the conversations are heard by the company, with all information staying on each owner’s device.

ElliQ has been distributed to seniors in various states, including New York, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington. While it can be acquired through assistance agencies, individuals also have the option to purchase it for $600 per year with a $250 installation fee. The goal is to distribute over 100,000 ElliQ devices within the next five years.

Critics, such as Brigham Young University psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, express concerns about the potential long-term effects of relying on AI for companionship. While acknowledging short-term benefits, she highlights the risk of diminishing human contact, emphasizing that loneliness should motivate individuals to reconnect socially.

Intuition Robotics CEO Dor Skuler underscores that ElliQ is not intended as a substitute for human contact but as a supplement, particularly for seniors without strong social networks. The device aims to provide companionship and empathy, adapting to each user’s preferences.

As the aging population faces challenges related to isolation, ElliQ represents an innovative approach leveraging AI to enhance the well-being of older Americans. The device has garnered positive feedback from users who appreciate its entertainment value, personalized interactions, and potential to break the cycle of loneliness.

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