Alongside the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Western World has suffered on another front: loneliness. The so-called loneliness pandemic comes amid elderly people — around Boomer age — living alone; the isolation is said be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking. What’s the solution? Robot companions, of course.
New York gives old people Robot Companions
As part of a new scheme to combat the “Loneliness Pandemic”, the City of New York is handing out robot companions to those over the age of 65. Sent to an initial wave of 800 people, the robots are basic homebots designed to make life a little less boring.
Built by Israeli company Intuition Robotics, the robots — named ElliQ — are little more than smart home assistants. They cannot help older people with any physical tasks, but they can hold minor conversation, keep track of health goals or medication and contact family members.
Much like a pet, the robot companions are only designed to foster connection. Little more than an Alexa or Google Home, the device is desktop sized with a “head” that moves, making it more lifelike. Apart from its face is a touchscreen tablet for video calls and texts.
NYSOFA director Greg Olsen explained to The Verge that the device promotes conversation and companionship. They said:
“Many features attracted us to ElliQ — that it is a proactive tool, remembers the interactions with the individual, focuses on health and wellness, stress reduction, sleep, hydration, etc. It focuses on what matters to individuals: memories, life validation, interactions with friends and families and promotes overall good health and well being.”
Barely a bot
Of course, New York’s move to gift out robot companions is a weird one, made weirder by the fact that ElliQ is barely a robot in the sci-fi sense. However, that future is quickly approaching.
For example, humanoid robots are currently in the works by a number of companies such as Tesla. While there is no Tesla Bot price or release date, many fans are excited for true robotics in the near futurer.
Nevertheless, robotics are already becoming a huge part of everyday life for some. With people already marrying robots or holograms, the futuristic technology is always contemporary.