Yet another “home robot”, this one aimed to be an in home helper for older people. ELLI•Q from Intuition Robots is about the same size and appearance as other social robots this year, though in place of an eye it has a light that suggests “eye” (which is kind of creepy in a “Hal” sort of way). ELLI•Q also has a separate tablet where a lot of the action happens.
Overall the features are little more than other voice activated hubs, and the robot does not seem to be able to do very much other than talk to you. ELLI•Q primarily operates as a voice controller for the tablet, sort of combining a voice hub with a personal assistant.
However, ELLI•Q does one cool thing. Basically, it tries to be a “companion”, and, in that role it tries to “watch the screen with you”. This is made manifest by the way ELLI•Q turns and looks at the screen when something is happening there that you should look at. That’s kind of cool, though I don’t know for how long.
Elli-Q is said to be designed to actively “nudge” us geezers with reminders and suggestions. I don’t have any information about that, so who knows? This could be great, or it could be living hell—everything depends on the details.
New Scientist reports  that Don Norman is advising the company, which is a positive sign. Sensei Norman has his head screwed on right (and is a geezer now himself).
New Scientist also reports that
“After unveiling the first working prototype of ElliQ, Intuition Robotics plans a trial with older adults in San Francisco to collect feedback and refine the product.”
Sigh. Build first, and then see if it works. Kind of backwards, IMO. (And just how willing will you be to change the product that you have put so much work into?)
There are tons of unanswered questions that really do need to be addressed here. Such as:
- Does anyone want to talk to a lamp, in order to access the same digital features as on any tablet?
- Is the tablet big enough and legible enough? (No.)
- Does the clever “social” interface do anything different other less social interfaces?
- What kind of “nudges” are valuable, and how should they be delivered?
- How does robot companionship compare to actual human companions, and to no companion?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I look forward to seeing actual evidence that this, or any other similar assistant, is safe and effective. (If you claim that this is good for people, you should have proof that it actually is.)
- Turk, Victoria (2017) Home robot to nudge older people to stay social and active. New Scientist, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23331084-000-home-assistant-robot-to-nudge-elderly-to-stay-social-and-active/