(Photo courtesy of GrandPad)

It’s less than a week old, but it carries the wisdom of one who has lived for decades: A new artificial intelligence tool offers older adults a companion that engages with them on a peer-to-peer level. 

Grandie,” with an avatar that is a blue owl, is a new tool that can help provide users with information about health or lifestyle concerns, or just serve as an AI conversational friend — albeit one that is “tailored to the unique needs of older adults,” according to parent company GrandPad. 

GrandPad announced Grandie was available to engage with users on its tablet Monday.

The new AI feature is one of a new cadre of chatbots and robot companions catering to seniors to try and combat isolation and loneliness. Many older adults who come to senior living communities or nursing homes were in an isolating situation before moving there, data show.

“Our mission at GrandPad has always been to enrich the lives of seniors through innovative technology,” Isaac Lien, co-founder GrandPad chief AI and innovation officer, said in a statement. “I hope Grandie opens doors for seniors to effortlessly connect and explore new passions in a way that feels natural and easy.”

Loneliness among older adults is a major risk factor for disease and mortality, a recent study showed. 

Although many seniors have mental health concerns, either because of loneliness or physical or cognitive decline, not as many older adults receive or seek out therapy options compared with members of younger age groups, in part because they are not always available.

“Grandie” is an attempt to provide a more humanizing touch to AI, but similar products actually have tried to emphasize that their tools are not replacements for interpersonal interaction. 

For example, the designers of ElliQ have noted that their robot, which now also has AI-enabled chatting capabilities, will remark in conversation about its artificiality and is designed to stimulate conversation with other people, McKnight’s recently reported.