800 “companion robots” fight against the loneliness of older people in New York

Authorities in the US state of New York are offering escort robots to more than 800 seniors to combat social isolation.

The New York State Office for Older Adults (NYSOFA) will work with local partners to identify seniors who would benefit most from this technology — a voice-activated smart device called ElliQ.

The device, which consists of an interactive robot combined with a tablet, will help “Promoting independence and supporting older peoplesaid the NYSOFA.

For example, it can run daily checks and suggest health and wellness tasks like sleep relaxation and exercise, remind users to take their medication, and help them stay in touch with family and friends.

It also “proactively” suggests activities and engages in conversations, using artificial intelligence (AI) to foster a sense of connectedness, NYSOFA adds.

Despite misconceptions and generalizations, older people welcome new technologies, especially when they see that they were developed by older people to meet their needs” NYSOFA director Greg Olsen said in a statement.

For those who are isolated in some way and wish to age in place, ElliQ is a powerful complement to traditional forms of social interaction and support from professional or family caregivers.“.

A robot companion for a happy old age

Produced by Israeli start-up Intuition Robotics, the ElliQ device is dubbed by the company as “Buddy for healthier, happier aging“. It went on sale in March of this year.

Researchers are increasingly turning to robots to find solutions as cases of social isolation and loneliness rise among older populations.

These feelings are common, and some countries report that up to a third of older people feel lonely, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Europe, robots have already been tested in UK care homes to improve mental health and reduce loneliness.

Similarly, a joint EU-Japan project called ACCRA has developed social robots designed by older people, including a mobility robot that helps people stand and a smaller robot that can interact and engage socially.

Article translated from English

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