ElliQ is like an Amazon Echo robot designed to keep seniors company

Whether it’s as part of modern education to prepare people for life in the digital economy, or just because we’re nerds who like cool tech, it’s easy to see how a robot fits into the lives of young (OK, young-ish in our case!) people.

But a startup thinks they can have just as profound an impact — if not greater — on the life of an elderly person.

Such a robot could help maintain their independence by reminding them to take medication and get some exercise, or recommending audiobooks and playing games to keep users mentally active. Enter Intuition Robotics and its ElliQ robot, which is designed to act a bit like a specially tailored Amazon Echo, but with more of a personality.

“These days, the ‘silver generation’ is quite independent and active, with the vast majority of older adults preferring to age in their own homes,” Dor Skuler, CEO and founder of Intuition Robotics, told Digital Trends. “At the same time, they are often isolated, considering that family members often live far away and many don’t see friends more than once or twice a week. Technology could be helping alleviate this but it often ends up being a barrier. Many older adults have a hard time using the technology that younger generations use for entertainment, education, and communication. The digital revolution makes it hard for people who aren’t tech savvy to do even simple things like listen to music because they need to know how to access digital music files.”

Physically, ElliQ looks a bit like the cute Luxo Jr. lamp mascot used by Pixar. It makes slight movements with its head to express itself and convey emotion, along with using a voice interface.

While you could write the movement part off as gimmicky, it’s important for a device that’s designed to be easily understood and which is also, in the words of Skuler, meant to act as a “social companion.”

Technology like this is always going to be challenging because it immediately suggests that it is an alternative to human interaction.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case and the presence of a robot which acknowledges someone’s presence in a room — in a world where nearly half of all people aged 75 and over live alone and a large number describe themselves as lonely — can carry out an important role.

The next step of the project will involve a trial phase in the homes of senior citizens in San Francisco in February.

Deals

Clean with a robot vacuum and save $160 on the Ecovacs Deebot, today only

Investing in smart home technology can usually come with a hefty price tag. If you were thinking of getting a robot vacuum, now is your chance. The Ecovacs Deebot N79 is one of our favorite budget-friendly robot vacuums and is currently on…
Gaming

‘Overwatch’ gunslinger Ashe is now available on all platforms

Blizzard announced Ashe as the latest Overwatch hero at BlizzCon 2018. The gunslinger has a history with McCree and makes use of a lever-action repeating rifle and a robotic sidekick.
Emerging Tech

Bottle-flipping robots may be the most millennial thing we’ve ever seen

Until drones start vaping, you're unlikely to see anything more millennial than a recent contest in Japan in which robots competed to pull off some seriously impressive bottle-flipping feats.
Emerging Tech

Shipping crate filled with 3D-printing robots may be the future of construction

Autodesk has created a robot-filled shipping container which may represent the future of construction work. The crate contains two robots able to 3D print custom components for building sites.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Emerging Tech

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tests its asteroid-sampling arm

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched in September 2016, is closing in on its target of the Bennu asteroid. The craft has now unfurled its robotic arm, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), and tested it successfully.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!