4 Companion Robots for Elder Care

Current Situation: Struggle to Find Caregivers

People around the developed world are struggling to find good human caregivers or any human caregiver for that matter. Robotics companies are coming to the aid. While these robots are not a replacement yet for a human caregiver, they do offer some interesting capabilities that in many cases can assist independent living for elders those are not bedridden or terminally ill.

These robots have been designed with the objective of providing rudimentary care, monitoring elders health, engaging elders, and keeping them connected to medical facility and family. Certain robots also perform basic tasks such as fetching certain things or assisting elders in basic daily activities.

Companion Robots Out To Address Caregiver Shortage

As mentioned in our earlier article companion robots for elder care segment is an upcoming and huge market opportunity. Below we list and feature 4 companion robots from robotics manufacturers across the globe that have successfully tested and/or successfully launched and marketed their robots to manage elder care.

The list below is useful for:

  • A Buyer: Set out to choose one that best suits their elder’s needs and

  • An Investor: looking to acquire a stake in this promising sector

INF Robotics’ Rudy Companion Robot

About Company, Funding and Product Success

INF Robotics Fairfax, Virginia-based INF Robotics offers “Rudy”, a home companion robot for the elders. It was founded in 2011. It raised a total of $70,000 in its first funding round from Herndon-based Center for Innovative Technology and angel investors. Company’s founder, Anthony Nunez has also invested $100,000.

Rudy completed its beta two testing phase, after piloting at home health care agencies such as  SenCura in Chantilly and in assisted living communities such as Vinson Hall in McLean. During this testing phase it was also tested with the Department of Veteran Affairs and about six different home care agencies. And it finally went on sale from October 2017.

Shape and Composition

Rudy’s key components include a screen on its tummy for interaction, a pair of hands for carrying things, and wheels for moving around.

Rudy Robot

Features

Rudy’s features are geared to help elders perform tasks, take medicines on time, keep them fit and connect with family and caregivers as per need basis:

  • Engages seniors in activities

  • Elders can easily control it to perform simple tasks

  • Simple voice control for ease of communication

  • Always connected to caregivers and family to get help on demand as and when needed

  • Allows doctors and caregivers to check in and even conduct visits and/or operate it remotely

  • Personalized schedule management with reminders for medicines or any other task

Intuition Robotics’ Elli.Q robot

About Company, Funding and Product Success

Intuition Robotics is an Israeli company founded in 2016 and has already raised $22 million in funding. It has an office in California and its first product, Elli.Q, a proactive social robot for elders, is being beta tested in US. It is slated for launch later this year.

The company believes that the biggest thing that disturbs seniors today is their loneliness, given how tech savvy children are nowadays that they hardly find time for their parents leave alone grandparents. And hence it devised a non-threatening and non-obtrusive robot.

Shape and Composition

Elli.Q is essentially a screen alongside a smallish robot that looks like two halves of two different-sized capsules attached at their respective outer ends. The upper half rotates, bends forward and tilts backwards. The upper half has also got a light in it and can talk to its user through a speaker. Such design is deliberate (to not make it look like any living being – human or animal) so that the elders do not end up developing a bond with it. It is equipped with multiple cameras too for a wider field of view.

Features

Elli.Q has been designed to work as a service bot to keep elders engaged with the outside world. And as a result, its features aim to achieve just that:

  • Connected to social media such as Facebook and Messenger

  • Video calls with family, friends or caregivers

  • Personalized activities suggestions at precise timings to help elders remain sharp, active and engaged

  • Voice control, body language, and an adaptive personality

  • Access for elders to online content and services without the need to use any apps (it works through voice control)

  • Feature that allows family members to check in daily

However, the aspect that really sets Elli.Q apart from other robots is the subtlety with which it communicates with seniors and the ease of operation it offers. E.g. if it does not hear a command correctly then it lowers its head and says things like “I am sorry, I am still young and learning”. This helps take away the frustration that such gadgets would otherwise lead to among elders.

Other such subtle but intelligent features of it include coming up with trivia and 20 different ways of saying good morning. Such aspects keep elders engaged and interested as it take out the “being monotonous” factor from the equation.

Future Development Plan

Elli.Q is being developed to change or adapt to its user’s changing needs. As a person ages the needs also change and the company wants Ell.Q to recognize that and adapt accordingly. More specifically, the company wants Elli.Q to be able to identify and react to changes in user’s mood, emotional state, cognitive and physical abilities. And in the process continue to be relevant.

CT Asia Robotics’ Dinsow Mini Robot

About Company, Funding and Product Success

CT Asia Robotics, a Japanese company founded in 2009, launched its Dinsow robot for elder care in Japan with great success in 2014. In 2016 alone, it sold over 500 such robots to several private hospitals, a large Thai family with senior people living with them, and many Japanese buyers.

The company seems to be self funded and has not raised any funding from investors. Chalermpon Punnotok, the founder and CEO of the company has used his own and/or parent company’ CT Asia Co. Ltd., which he founded back in 1997.

Shape and Composition

A Japanese company, CT Asia Robotics launched its Dinsow mini robot in Japan with great success in 2014. The mini robot is essentially a screen that works as its face. The screen can turn sideways as well as turn up and down. The remaining part of the body more or less resembles the shape of a light stand with two small arms on the side.

Features

The robot was built ground up with the sole objective of elder care and its features set out to achieve that:

  • Monitors elderly in their home, sends alerts to family when the elder wakes up in the morning or doesn’t come in his room for higher than average period of time

  • Comes with a mobile application through which family members can communicate with the robots

  • In the event of an accident involving the monitored person, the robot send information to family members and local hospital via the application. It can also call for an ambulance, with the feature to load such contact information into the robot’s memory

  • Keeps track of elder’s medicine and helps with health care related issues

  • Can set up video chatting with family for elders who may struggle to do on their own

  • Is equipped with a karaoke feature to entertain elders and can also play videos that the elder likes or those that encourage light physical activity/exercise

  • Display vital health statistics

Fraunhofer IPA’s Care-O-bot 4 (not limited to elder care only)

About Company, Funding and Product Success

Care-O-bot is Fraunhofer IPA’s vision of a mobile robot assistant that can actively support humans in domestic work. Fraunhofer IPA (The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation) is an institute of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft for the Promotion of Applied Research e. V. (FhG) and is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Its history dates back to 1958. Care-O-bot also

Shape and Capability

It has a round head with a display at the top and a round base with wheels. Its neck and hip joints can be made motional by opting for Care-O-bot’s patented spherical joints. The limbs are very flexible which can be equipped with one, two or no arms based on the task the user wants it to perform.

Features

The Care-O-bot 4 not being designed solely for elder care has several features that are helpful for anyone, young or old. It is also deployed in retail stores or hospitals to assist the staff in performing certain tasks. But having said that it can prove even more useful for elders who struggle to perform routine tasks.

  • Can perform tasks such as bring or hold a particular thing. For example if the user wants it to serve drinks, then it’s one hand can be replaced by a tray, or its mobile base platform can be used as a serving trolley

  • Support healthcare staff by displaying relevant patient health metrics and simultaneously holding things that a healthcare professional needs (such as medicines, medical tools, glass of water, etc.)

  • Assist in kitchen to get things and simultaneously display recipes

  • Serve as a guide, for example measure and display different atmospheres

  • Conveys information not just through a touchscreen, but also body gestures, text-to-speech, sounds, and through a laser pointer embedded in its arm

  • Can carry and hold luggage on its base platform

Future Development Plan

The company’s next goal is to make the assistant robot capable enough to help people with physical disabilities lead a self-determined life in their own home. For this purpose, leveraging on its sensors, Care-O-bot is being developed to precisely comprehend complex everyday situations and offer reliable physical support.

Need Assistance? 

While these 4 are tried and/or tested, there exists more companion in the world. Should you like, we can help you to analyze the market opportunity and companies in this domain to shortlist the one that would best suit your care requirement or investment agenda.

Disclaimer: The above information is based on the details available about each robot over the internet. We have not contacted any of the above companies and we do not endorse any of these companies or their products nor do we hold any stake in any of these companies.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.