The ElliQ model was shown to reduce loneliness in 95 percent of seniors who used it. (Photo courtesy of Intuition Robotics)

After offering its companionship to users in New York state, an artificial intelligence device specifically devised for older adults, ElliQ, is ready to hit the road.

ElliQ’s maker, Intuition Robotics, is hoping a new influx of funding will allow it to expand current partnerships and bring the bot into more homes and senior living communities. 

In addition to New York, the company has initiated programs with states such as California, Washington and Wisconsin. It also has an agreement with care organizations that focus on Medicare beneficiaries, the company announced Tuesday.

Although Intuition wants as many ElliQ models out on the market as possible, the company says that as it tries to hone proof of concept, there is one crucial parameter for which older adults are eligible for the device: They have to be lonely.

“Our goal is to make sure the ‘right’ people get ElliQ,” Intuition CEO and founder Dor Skuler told the McKnight’s Tech Daily on Tuesday. “What we often find, is that if people who want the product are actually not lonely or isolated, living an active lifestyle, then they use it [ElliQ] seldomly, and it doesn’t have an impact on their lives. The need isn’t there.”

The company still is evaluating data on the device’s efficacy, although its initial findings through the New York partnership found that 95% of users felt less lonely with ElliQ.

Within senior living, ElliQ can make a big difference for incoming residents, in helping them more quickly foster a sense of place and belonging, Skuler said. ElliQ’s functions include promoting activities within a community and helping to facilitate check-ins with family members. 

As for ElliQ itself, Skuler was adamant that the AI device be used to help foster connections between people, not replace them. ElliQ, which can mix scripted and AI-generated responses, ought to be viewed more as something akin to a pet, or something else altogether, he said.

“If you tell ElliQ, ‘I love you,’ what should be the response?” Skuler said. “As a designer, that’s the ultimate compliment. But we’ve programmed ElliQ to give a response like, ‘Oh, thank you. That makes my processors overheat,’ to remind them that ElliQ is a device.” 

The company’s recent funding drive totaled $25 million and came from a variety of venture capital investors, the company stated.