Is ElliQ the Senior Companion of the Future?
Everyone has an older relative who’d love to video chat with grandchildren but gets hung up on that pesky login. Someone who needs to be reminded to get up and stretch, or who’d relish an NPR podcast but isn’t sure how to find it on their smart device.
Enter ElliQ, whose Israel-based inventor, Intuition Robotics, calls it “a proactive social companion.” You might think of small, tabletop ElliQ as part Alexa, part loving and ever-so-gently nudgy adult daughter. But Alexa—Amazon’s personal assistant device—and other similar products “aren’t geared for older users,” noted Brian Shulman, Intuition’s San Francisco-based director of business development. ElliQ’s cognitive technology adapts to the interest of its human companion, so, unlike Alexa, it doesn’t wait for commands; it proactively recommends TED Talks, mentions incoming emails and suggests activities like taking a walk.
Intuition’s developers were motivated by how the so-called digital divide contributed to social isolation for older family members, Shulman said. It’s particularly acute in the United States, where vast geography and migratory culture mean more seniors live far from their offspring.
ElliQ—which is ideal for the senior who feels comfortable owning a smart device but can’t fully operate it—simplifies the socially connective technology that is reflexive for younger people, eliminating the complexity of downloads, apps and texts.
“If I send a picture to my grandmother of my wife and son at the beach, ElliQ will say, ‘You got a picture from Brian. Looks like they’re having a great time at the beach,’ ” Shulman explained.
ElliQ’s initial units won’t ship until later this summer—$1,499 preorders include home installation—yet the device has already won a host of artificial intelligence industry awards.