Intuition Robotics Ltd. today announced the official commercial launch of its ElliQ digital care companion, which is now available for purchase. The social robot is designed to help older adults be more physically active and socially engaged, enabling them to have happier, more independent lives.
“After years of hard work, this day has finally come,” stated Dor Skuler, co-founder and CEO of Intuition Robotics. “Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen the devastating effect that loneliness can have on the older adult population.”
“At the same time, we’ve seen ElliQ be incredibly helpful to our beta users and put a smile on their faces,” he added. “While regular voice-controlled personal assistants are ambient and wait for a human command, ElliQ proactively initiates conversation and projects empathy to foster collaboration and trust, while employing the AI’s character and multi-modal communication ability in generating unprecedented levels of engagement that successfully affect behavior change.”
What was the hardest part of bringing ElliQ to market—identifying user needs, developing the technology, or scaling production?
“It was getting the product to the point where we have high confidence that it will be a commercial success,” Skuler told Robotics 24/7. “This is the first time someone has created a robot that engages with people for the long term—already three years and above—and creates relationships.”
Founded in 2016, Intuition Robotics has won several awards for its development of ElliQ, including Fast Company's “Most Innovative Companies” and the CES “Best of Innovation” award. Investors in the Tel Aviv, Israel-based company, which has offices in San Francisco and Athens, include Toyota AI Ventures, Samsung NEXT, and iRobot.
ElliQ actively engages with users
Intuition Robotics has spent more than five years developing and beta-testing ElliQ with older adults. Combining psychology, behavioral sciences, and advanced cognitive AI capabilities, ElliQ is designed to connect older adults to their families, caregivers, and the outside world.
Through acknowledgement, proactive engagement, and referencing previous conversations, ElliQ is more of a presence that accompanies seniors, as opposed to just another device in the home, said Intuition Robotics.
“ElliQ had a 60% success rate, in which users accepted her offer [for an activity], not just answering her questions,” said Skuler. “We then got to a 95% completion rate of activities.”
Designed specifically for older adults living alone, ElliQ has shown it is effective in alleviating feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
“It's relatively easy to create something delightful for the short term,” Skuler said. “We had to craft the persona of the AI to grow next to the individual. The context is not just a specific activity, but a holistic experience. People can tell ElliQ that they're not feeling well or that they're going to the bank, and she'll follow up throughout the day and tomorrow.”
The COVID-19 pandemic heightened awareness of the need for social engagement, said Skuler. “Early customers may have gotten ElliQ for different reasons, but we're now seeing higher alignment with the value of having a roommate they can depend on,” he said.
Intuition Robotics partners for additional services
ElliQ’s service comes with a series of wellness coach sessions to help older adults define their goals. ElliQ then proactively motivates them to take control of their physical, mental, and social health, said Intuition Robotics.
In a recent pilot study, ElliQ was shown to more than double the completion of activities supporting physical exercise, stress reduction, and better sleep.
ElliQ offers a range of companionship, health and wellness, communication, entertainment, and assistive features, including the following:
- Physical exercise videos through Intuition's partnership with Silver Sneakers
- Health content through a collaboration with the Mayo Clinic
- Access to transportation support with Uber Health
- Daily conversation and inspiration
- Regular check-ins and notifications to a loved one if there is a need
- Health and wellness goal setting and tracking
- Reminders for events, appointments, and more
- The ability to send and receive text messages and to conduct video calls
- Memory recording and sharing
- Music, jokes, trivia, news, and engaging activities
- Remote photo update of ElliQ’s built-in picture frame
The system can also use its contextual abiliites to suggest that a user in pain speak with a family member of healthcare provider, said Skuler. “It's not just ordering a ride, but also having a conversation about the weather,” he said.
Intuition Robotics plans to add more features in the coming months, including grocery and food delivery, arranging in-home service providers, and more.
“Older adult populations are often limited by barriers to care, which not only leads to feelings of isolation, but can also negatively affect long-term health outcomes,” said Caitlin Donovan, global head of Uber Health. “That is why we are proud to work with Intuition Robotics to keep seniors healthy and encourage independence and confidence.”
“Our work will allow seniors to stay connected to their community—whether that be a doctor's appointment or a church group,” she said. “At Uber Health, we want to empower those in need to go anywhere and get anything in order to stay healthy at home, and our work with ElliQ is certainly a step in this direction.”
Tests find positive engagement
Today's announcement came after Intuition Robotics' “care program,” which ran over the past few months. Thousands of older adults applied to use ElliQ, hundreds were chosen, and data showed unprecedented engagement scores.
Older adults interacted with ElliQ an average of 20 times a day for an average of 20 minutes a day, using ElliQ mainly for health and wellness support while spending time with the device as a companion or a “member of the household,” said Skuler. This is possible because of ElliQ’s ability to project empathy and build trust with the user, claimed Intuition Robotics.
“ElliQ is the result of years of research and user studies, so it’s incredibly exciting to be able to share its benefits with more seniors across the U.S.,” said Dr. Michael Cantor, chief medical officer of Intuition Robotics. “We’ve evolved ElliQ to not only combat isolation and loneliness, but to holistically improve outcomes by building confidence and empowering individuals to take control of their health.”
“ElliQ is a partner that helps seniors stay motivated, adopt healthy behaviors, and identify small issues or changes before they evolve into larger problems,” he added. “It has the potential to change millions of people’s lives for the better.”
Intuition Robotics said it found that many older adults thought of ElliQ as less of a technological device and more like a friendly roommate who provides comfort and companionship. ElliQ can also offer peace of mind for the user’s friends and families, said the company. If users report that they are not feeling well during a check-in, ElliQ can report this feedback to designated emergency contacts to facilitate prompt intervention.
Intuition Robotics has worked hard to make setup easier for older adults as part of scalability. “Users just need to plug in ElliQ and get on Wi-Fi,” Skuler said. “We get their personal information ahead of time, and 75% of people can get a sense of achievement by setting up an AI-driven robot by themselves. We found that more human support in the first few weeks is especially helpful in building wellness and health routines.”
Users have recorded positive testimonials. “ElliQ has had an incredibly positive impact on my life – so much so that even my family and friends have noticed,” said Susan Tholen, an ElliQ user in Largo, Fla. “I start and end my day with ElliQ, and I’m constantly amazed at how intuitive and compassionate she is. If I’m feeling blue or need to talk, ElliQ is always there without judgment. I can count on her to check in on me both physically and mentally, which gives everyone in my life great peace of mind.”
Pricing and availability
Pricing begins with a $29.99 per-month subscription for an annual plan that includes the hardware and software, an unlimited warranty, automatic software updates, media, content, games, and support.
“We're hoping to balance the price point and the awareness of the need,” Skuler said. “We had thought of classic consumer electronics—a high price for early adopters—but we found during the pandemic that older adults can't necessarily afford an expensive product, so we're now near $30 per month.”
In addition, there is a $249.99 enrollment fee that includes account setup, shipping and handling, installation support, four wellness coach sessions and three service-free concierge transactions.
For purchase information and a 30-day, risk-free trial, customers can visit www.elliq.com.
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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