New York state officials are giving companion robots to more than 800 senior citizens to help combat loneliness

New York state officials are giving companion robots to more than 800 senior citizens to help combat loneliness
The ElliQ companion robot on display during a CES event.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • New York state officials will offer companion robots to hundreds of senior citizens.
  • The robots' features include wellness activity suggestions and medication reminders.

New York state officials have offered robot companions to more than 800 older adults.

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) announced that it would work with its local partners to identify which adults would most benefit from the service, as the government department works to tackle social isolation.

The robots are known by the name ElliQ and made by Israeli firm Intuition Robotics. They use AI technology to support senior citizens, offering wellness activity suggestions and initiating conversation to build a sense of relationship with the device, according to the NYSOFA.

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Older adults face a higher risk of loneliness than others and the pandemic has worsened that risk. More than one-third of Americans in a Harvard University survey reported "serious loneliness" in October 2020.

The robot industry has also faced a boom this year, with robot orders jumping 40% in the first quarter of 2022, as businesses seek solutions to the pandemic-induced labor crisis.


According to NYSOFA's director, Greg Olsen, seniors are very willing to accept new technologies to enhance their life, adding that the ElliQ was designed with input from older adults.

"Despite misconceptions and generalizations, older adults embrace new technology, especially when they see it is designed by older adults to meet their needs," said Olsen in a statement. "For those who experience some form of isolation and wish to age in place, ElliQ is a powerful complement to traditional forms of social interaction and support from professional or family caregivers."

ElliQ is split into a lit-up feature, which holds a microphone and speaker, and a second touchscreen tablet which offers video communication.

The device, first launched for commercial sale in March, suggests physical activities and relaxation exercises, provides medication reminders, offers assistance in connecting with family and friends, among other services.

"We're thrilled to be working with New York State as our first state government partner and believe ElliQ will be able to effectively engage and encourage older adults in New York to be more independent, healthy and happy," Intuition Robotics CEO and co-founder Dor Skuler said in a statement.


Both the NYSOFA and Intuition Robotics did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside its normal working hours.