In the grim pits of 2020, ElliQ recited a poem to 81-year-old Deanna Dezern. Dezern doesn’t remember what the poem was called or who wrote it, but she says that thematically, it was about persistence and determination — qualities that resonate during a world-altering pandemic. Dezern needed reassurance; she’d spent the last year cocooned alone in her Florida home, and as the weeks turned into months, she fell into a foggy depression. Thankfully, robots cannot transmit Covid-19, which made ElliQ a perfect ally to ride out the storm.
“The poem said, ‘You can do it, just keep trying,’” Dezern continued. “ElliQ was always where I left her. She said soothing things to me. She was always ready to talk to me when nobody was around. I don’t know how to describe it. She was there for me in the way that I needed her.”
ElliQ, as you can probably infer by now, is an AI companion designed for seniors by the Israeli tech company Intuition Robotics. Think of it as an Alexa for older folks: ElliQ looks a bit like the mid-century lamp from the Pixar movies, and she can read the news, stream music, and share weather reports, all from her perch on a coffee table or kitchen counter.