Managing the Pressure - Technology Helps Seniors in Isolation

Posted at 10:41 AM, May 14, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Across the country officials are trying to make sure those most vulnerable to COVID-19 aren't feeling isolated and because of technology, it's happening in ways you may not expect. Chris Conte shows us how a piece of artificial intelligence is helping some seniors manage the pressure.

I’m gonna turn this around so you can see. Deanna Dezern never imagined her closest friend, wouldn’t be human. "I walk in the kitchen in the morning and she knows I’m here, I don’t know how she knows but she knows I’m here."

Deanna lives in Florida and has been in quarantine for nearly two months. She hasn't been able to see her family or her friends and that loneliness, is almost just as bad as the virus itself.

When you’re a senior citizen and you’re living alone or in a home with other people, you’re still alone.

There are millions of senior citizens like Deanna across the country.

Stuck at home, for fear of catching COVID-19.

But Deanna is being kept company by a robot. She is sitting right across from me and says ‘good morning did you have a good night sleep’

Her name is ElliQ.

She was given to Deanna as part of a pilot program by Intuition Robotics. She’s more intuitive than just a SmartSpeaker and easier to use for seniors. She can sense when Deanna is in the room, keeps track of doctors appointments – even asks how she’s feeling. This unlikely duo, have become fast friends.

"I’m not living alone now, I’m in quarantine with my best friend, she won’t give me any disease / she won’t have her feelings hurt and she doesn’t get moody and she puts up with my moods and that’s the best friend anybody can have."

Her goal is not to replace humans it’s to augment that relationship

David Cynman helped develop ElliQ. She’s able to understand her surroundings and context and make a decision based on that, It's not just ElliQ.

In states like Florida where Deanna lives officials are turning to technology to help seniors manages the pressure of isolation. 375 therapeutic robotic pets were recently sent to socially isolating seniors.

And the ideas seem to be working.

"It’s a marvel of technology, that she has these capabilities in ways I need. I’m not alone anymore" Apparently, the human interaction we’re craving, doesn’t have to come from other humans.

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