New York Purchases Over 800 Robots for Elderly Residents
Per a report by Margaret Osborne of the Smithsonian Magazine, the New York State Office for the Aging purchased over 800 "ElliQ" robots to give to lonely, elderly adults.
The ElliQ robot was designed to be similar to Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, but is specifically tailored to people over the age of 65 who live alone. According to Osborne's report, it can remind someone to take medication, initiates daily conversation, and help contact friends and family.
In a blog post announcing the state's plans to purchase the robots, CEO and co-founder Dor Skuler wrote "ElliQ is designed to foster independence and provide support for older adults through daily check-ins, assitance with wellness goals and physical activities, connection to family, friends and the community. The technology has shown unprecedented engagement levels with older adults. Users have an average of 20 daily interactions."
Additionally, the blog post alleges that according to the AARP Public Policy Institute, "social isolation drives $6.7 billion in additional associated Medicare spending per year." Essentially, loneliness contributes to a variety of serious mental and physical health consequences, so combatting loneliness in our aging population could be as financially beneficial as it could be physically beneficial.
Per the press release from the New York State Office for the Aging, the ElliQ robots are one part of a $2.9 million initiative aimed at combatting social isolation among older residents and develop new technologies to assist in that goal. The press release also noted a very similar program, the animatronic pet initiative which would provide older residents with lifelike pet companions.