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In March 2022, Intuition Robotics rolled out a product it had been working on for years: ElliQ. Designed as a non-human companion for older adults, ElliQ is a tabletop robot that uses AI to interact conversationally with its user. It asks them how their day is, helps them check in with family, guides them through physical exercises and wishes them good night when they head for bed. That was ElliQ 1.0. (Check out a description by an 81-year-old beta-tester.)
This week, ElliQ 2.0 was announced. In addition to updated hardware, like an improved screen and higher quality microphone, the software that runs ElliQ was also upgraded, specifically to make for 'deeper conversations and stronger relationship building.' Part of that is built around new content like museum tours and virtual travel. Enriching as those elements may be, where it gets interesting — and personal — is that ElliQ now helps users record their memories and share them with others.
Recording memories can be beneficial for older adults. Besides preserving their stories for future generations, the act of reminiscing and reflecting helps stimulate the brain and may improve cognitive function. It can also serve as a form of therapy, allowing people to process and make sense of difficult events in their lives.
Sharing memories with others — whether through a device like ElliQ or by telling stories in person — helps people feel connected, supported and seen by their loved ones. ElliQ may not be human, but by listening closely and patiently and preserving what it hears, the bot taps into one of our most innate human needs: the desire to be heard and understood.
By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be aged 60 years or over, increasing from 1 billion in 2020 to 1.4 billion in 2030. More so than previous generations, these over-60s are entirely comfortable with tech and apt to welcome AI-powered helpers and sidekicks that offer empathy and connection.
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