News (and robot) roundup: ElliQ companion robot upgrades, named to 2022 TIME list; Robin the Robot introduced for older adult care; Utilita acquires Canary Care (UK)

ElliQ, a desktop companion robot targeted to older adults and those with assistive needs, announced an upgrade to their software, a new 2.0 edition of their hardware (left), and a communication app for caregivers. In March, when Intuition Robotics launched it, this Editor noted its unusual shape, versatile small size, controlled by a small tablet with a simplified interface, and its ability to combine both chat interactivity and wellness tracking, including appointments and med reminders.

  • The new software enhances interactivity with deeper conversations, and more content, such as museum exhibit tours, virtual travel, and the recording of memories to send to loved ones. The software upgrades are supported on ElliQ 1.0 and the new 2.0 hardware.
  • The 2.0 hardware is at a significantly larger scale with improvements such as simpler tablet charging, a better screen, and higher quality far field microphone performance. 
  • The new companion app for family members, friends, and caregivers expands capabilities into video calls, text/image/video messages, remote reminder setting, and updates on wellness changes. The free app is available shortly on the Apple Store and Google Play.

ElliQ was also named to TIME’s 2022 list of Best Inventions in the Accessibility category, for innovation in helping seniors live happier and healthier with the use of easy-to-use AI and technology.

In May, ElliQ entered a partnership with the NYSOFA (New York State Office for the Aging) program with 800 older adults in care. Based on their impact study from the first six months of distribution, ElliQ has had some impressive results, such as reducing loneliness in 80% of users and helps 82% stay mentally active. Release (PDF)

Another TIME winner in 2021 for robotics, Robin the Robot, has been introduced in care for older adults at Riverwalk Post-Acute in Riverside, California. Robin’s design is child-sized at 4 feet and mimics a child of about seven years. Most of the Robin pilots are in pediatric hospitals such as UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, augmenting care through interacting with the child, providing social support through telepresence and unobtrusive patient monitoring. This new initiative in older adult post-acute care not only monitors emotional state by observing patient facial expressions, but also provides companionship and mental stimulation through playing games and conversation at a ‘grandchild’ level. Expper Technologies, a seed-stage company also in California, in October won a $2 million round led by Starta VC with its co-investing platform Liqvest and Formula VC. HealthLeadersMedia  More on Robin’s use in this type of care is in this blog post.

In the UK, Canary Care has been acquired by energy ‘challenger’ provider Utilita. Oxfordshire-based Canary Care expands Utilita’s home services area into assistive technology with wireless sensors that monitor activity, temperature, and portal accessible by family and caregivers. Transaction cost is not disclosed. Canary Care will continue as a separate entity, but will be working with Utilita’s tech arm, Procode, on research and development. Utilita supplies energy and also energy control such as smart meters and monitoring apps. Release (PDF). 

Categories: Latest News.