The human face of robots

Written by | Innovation, Lista 1

The human face of robots

The latest project by Yves Béhar and his Fuseproject studio aims to resolve the difficulties encountered by an ageing population living alone when managing technology. Far removed from the Hollywood standard, Elli•Q is a new and utopian artificial intelligence robot.

According to Age UK, a large charity working with the elderly, almost half of people over 75 live alone and more than a million say they often or always feel lonely. Thirty-six percent speak to fewer than one person per day and 11% say they see no one on more than five days a month. These few but all-telling data suggest that elderly people living alone increasingly rely more on technology than human interaction to source information and communicate with family and friends – but they often struggle to use it. These data prompted Yves Behar to design a robotic companion called Elli•Q for the Israeli start-up Intuition Robotics, previewed at the “New Old” exhibition at London’s Design Museum last January and tested at a trial stage in the homes of elderly people in the US Bay Area in February.

Elli•Q’s is tasked with keeping the ageing population active and engaged, enabling them to overcome the complexities of the digital world by helping them use a wide range of technologies, including video chats, music, audiobooks, online games and social media. In terms of design, Behar intentionally avoided the appearance of a traditional robot and opted for the form of an everyday domestic object. Elli•Q communicates using movements based on body language to convey emotions, a vocal interface, sounds, lights and images. Using automatic learning, it stores its owner’s preferences, conduct and personality, and proactively recommends activities based on the story built up and family suggestions, such as doing an activity after watching the TV for a while, appointment times and taking medication.
Elli•Q is formed of two entities: a “social manager” with an LED display and human characteristics expressed via animated gestures, words, sounds and light; and a screen displaying contents that can be set on a base or held by the user.

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Last modified: 7 March 2017