A senior uses ElliQ, left, a robot its creators describe as “empathetic” and “proactive” to make users feel less lonely. (Photo courtesy of Intuition Robotics)

Robots and artificial intelligence have been put forward as a potential solution to help older adults deal with loneliness. Now at least one company has statistics to prove it.

An incredible 95% of older adults who used Intuition Robotics’s tabletop robot, ElliQ, said the bot had helped them feel less lonely, the company said in a report released this week. 

The bot responds to voice and body movement — the company describes ElliQ as “empathetic” and “proactive.” It was given to 800 lonely seniors last year in a partnership with the New York State Office for the Aging. 

New York has been one of the most active states in combating senior isolation; NYSOFA previously deployed thousands of robot pets to elderly homes during the pandemic.

“We had high hopes for the efficacy of ElliQ, but the results that we’re seeing are truly exceeding our expectations,” NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said in a statement. “The data speaks for itself.” 

Almost twice as many older adults use ElliQ for companionship as for health and wellness, with some people interacting with the bot more than 30 times a day, the report stated. 

Some of the activities ElliQ can conduct with seniors includes stress-reduction exercises and cognitive games. Over the past year, Intuition added features such as “road trips,” virtual tours of museums, and a digital memoir compiling to ElliQ’s functionality.

Although many older adults have self-reported their own satisfaction with robots, a majority of physicians in one survey also supported using robot companions to improve mental health, McKnight’s Home Care reported earlier this year.

Even robots that ostensibly are intended for roles such as groundskeeping and security at senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities have engendered affinity from the residents, such as the K5 at the Parker Jewish Institute or the Whiz at Life Care Services properties.

Earlier this week, Nationwide insurance also confirmed it is part of an ongoing pilot program involving robots for elderly policy members.