Ramat Gan start-up wows elderly with robot helper

Elli•Q aims to address the loneliness and social isolation experienced by many older adults.

January 15, 2017 01:58
2 minute read.
Intuition Robotics Elli•Q

Ramat Gan-based Intuition Robotics unveiled Elli•Q, its prototype for a robotic companion for the elderly. (photo credit: INTUITION ROBOTICS)

LONDON – A Ramat-Gan based start-up introduced its prototype for Elli•Q, a robotic companion for the elderly, at the Design Museum in London last week.

The device, whose design came about from a collaboration with Swiss designer Yves Béhar, was unveiled at the opening night of the museum’s New Old: Designing for our Future Selves exhibition.

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Designed to address the loneliness and social isolation experienced by many older adults, Elli•Q inspires participation in activities by proactively suggesting and instantly connecting older adults to digital content such as TED talks, music or audio books; recommending physical activities such as taking a walk after watching television for a prolonged period of time; keeping appointments and taking medications on time; and connecting with family through technology like chat bots linked to Facebook Messenger.

In terms of companionship, Elli•Q might remind a user that she has bridge in the evening, and suggest that the user might want to practice with the robot ahead of time.

Or, it might remind a user that he wanted to Skype with his daughter, while practicing tai chi.

The device itself has two main parts: a moving robot head and a tablet.

Akin to a small, highly stylized lampshade, Elli•Q exhibits human characteristics and is animated by movement, speech, sound and light.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on opening night, Intuition Robotics CEO and founder Dor Skuler said: “It’s very exciting to be here now.

We started the company in mid-2015 and we self-funded it, and then exactly a year ago we raised our seed funding.

“The company’s been full throttle for about a year, which is a relatively short time from concept to execution for something of this scale,” he added.

Skuler noted that the robotic companion, which will begin its trial phase in California’s Bay Area in February 2017, had also proved a hit with the elderly British audience that had tried it earlier in the day.

“It’s been wonderful to see the reception we’re getting,” he said. “We spent the morning with older adults we invited to interact with Elli•Q to give us feedback and we were just blown away.”

Asked whether Elli•Q would replace human companionship, Béhar said: “Elli•Q could never replace human interaction, [but] it can be an important motivating factor in keeping older adults healthy and active when living alone.”

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