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New York State Office for the Aging deploys AI robots as companions for older adults

Building on its effort to battle social isolation and support aging-in-place, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) is delivering voice-operated smart technology into the homes of more than 800 older adults.

NYSOFA is working with local offices for the aging and partners to identify older adults who would most benefit from the technology: ElliQ by Intuition Robotics, which is described by the company as a proactive and empathetic care companion.

ElliQ is designed to foster independence and provide support for older adults through daily check-ins, assistance with wellness goals and physical activities, connection to family and friends, and more using voice commands and/or on-screen instructions.

The technology recently launched commercially after years of pilots and early production deployments. Users have an average of 20 daily interactions. ElliQ is made specifically for older adults to support independence at home. While other technologies are reactive to commands, ElliQ proactively suggests activities and initiates conversations, building context through artificial intelligence to inform follow-up conversations that create a sense of relationship with the AI, the company explained.

To support health and wellness, ElliQ offers sleep relaxation exercises, physical activity exercises, in-depth nutrition-related conversations, and medication reminders for each user’s unique conditions.

In 2017, the U.S. Surgeon General declared social isolation to be a “global epidemic” – one that has only worsened in the COVID-19 health emergency. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, social isolation drives $6.7 billion in additional associated Medicare spending per year.

“This product does so many things to improve health, combat isolation, and improve overall well-being and independence,” New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said. “Designed with input from older adults, the future of supporting and serving older adults includes technology. The future is here.”

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