The Israeli start-up Intuition Robotics, which is developing a robot that aims to improve quality of life for seniors, has announced a $14 million financing round headed by Japan’s Toyota Research Institute.
The Israeli company’s ELLI-Q robot is designed to help seniors cope with emotional issues, such as loneliness, and encourages them to live a more active lifestyle.
“The world’s population is aging rapidly,” said Dor Skuler, co-founder and CEO of Intuition Robotics, the Israeli financial news outlet Globes reported.
“The proportion of the population that will soon be 65 or older has grown to 30 percent…life expectancy in the West is already nearing 86-87, and continues to climb,” he said. “The result is many years without an employment or social framework for people who are still mainly healthy and lucid. The result of this isolation is accelerated dementia, depression and death.”
The ELLI-Q, which aims to solve this problem, does not resemble a human, but moves in a way that makes it appear alive.
“ELLI-Q bends a little when it apologizes for not understanding us,” Skuler explained. “If it is thinking, the head will go up a bit, and the light in its face will fade.”
There is a growing market for robots for seniors in countries such as Japan, which is facing a burgeoning demographic crisis due to its rapidly aging population. Some 10,000 robots are already being used in the medical and nursing fields around the world.