NY State to Hand Out 800 Companion Robots to the Elderly

'First-ever proactive and empathetic care companion'

Between Amazon’s Astro, Miko 3, Moxie, and those nightmare-inducing “dogs” created by Boston Dynamics, robots are having something of a moment. 

Now there’s a robot developed exclusively for older adults, and New York state is giving away 800 of them along with monthly subscriptions, as reported in a press release. The bot is called ElliQ and is advertised as a “sidekick for healthier, happier aging.” 

ElliQ Robot NY State

Intuition Robotics

The robots, developed by Israeli firm Intuition Robotics, typically cost $250 plus a $30 monthly subscription charge, and the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) purchased 800 for an undisclosed price to be given away at a later date to elderly recipients as part of an initiative to combat loneliness. 

ElliQ has been in development for several years and offers many features found in digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, but with a proactive and chatty spin. These bots can’t help users with physical tasks, but they can keep track of health goals, remind people to take meds, and even engage in small talk. 

Intuition Robotics also says that ElliQ robots remember key details about their owners’ lives and personalities. For instance, if someone laughs a lot, ElliQ will learn to rely on joke-telling as part of its subroutine. To that end, scientific reports indicate companion robots do offer the potential to improve well-being in older adults. 

This isn’t the only tech-heavy test run that the New York State Office for the Aging is currently engaged with. The organization is currently running an animatronic pet initiative, a ride-sharing service aimed at the elderly, and various online communities complete with facilitator-led classes and services. 

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