ElliQ, the active aging companion, is an AI-driven social robot that keeps older adults active, engaged and connected to family and friends, and helps them overcome the complexity of the digital world.

Toyota Research Institute Invests in Intuition Robotics to Develop ElliQ

Dor Skuler | Intuition Robotics

What is the Toyota Research Institute?

Toyota Research Institute is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America under the direction of Dr. Gill Pratt. The company aims to strengthen Toyota’s research structure and has four initial mandates: 1) enhance the safety of automobiles, 2) increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, 3) translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility, and 4) accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Why is Toyota investing in a home robotics company

TRI is on a mission to use artificial intelligence to improve the quality of human life. One of TRI's mandates is to expand the benefit of motor technology beyond automobiles, for example to in-home support of older adults. TRI is researching assistive technologies that will bring the most happiness and value to the home, as the need for more in-home care increases with an aging population. They chose to invest in Intuition Robotics as the company’s goal to help older adults lead active and engaging lifestyles aligns well with this mandate. Intuition Robotics is implementing technology that assists older adults to remain independent and enhances their way of aging. 


Can you give us a quick description of ElliQ, how it works and what it does?

ElliQ, the active aging companion, is an AI-driven social robot that keeps older adults active, engaged and connected to family and friends, and helps them overcome the complexity of the digital world. ElliQ inspires participation in activities by proactively suggesting and instantly connecting older adults to digital content such as TED talks, music or audiobooks; recommending activities in the physical world like taking a walk; and connecting with family through technology like chatbots linked to Facebook Messenger. Using “Natural Communication” such as body language that conveys emotion, speech interface, sounds, lights and images to express herself, ElliQ is emotive, autonomous, and easily understood. Using machine learning, she learns the preferences, behavior, and personality of her owner, and proactively recommends activities based on that history and recommendations by family.


How is Toyota helping with the development of ElliQ?

As a strategic investor, Toyota is not involved directly in the development of ElliQ.  We're cooperating with them on various subjects and attempting to find areas of mutual interest. Our first joint project is around making our motors very quiet and precise. We plan to open-source our joint work for the benefit of the community, including architecture and code.


How are the funds raised being used by IR?

The funds from our Series A round are being used to develop and bring to market the first commercial product of ElliQ.  


What stage of development is ElliQ currently in?

ElliQ is currently undergoing usability testing and we will soon begin value prop testing. The product is undergoing design for manufacturing processes and assembly line creation, while we are also working on adding capabilities to and improving the software behind ElliQ.


How do you see the marketplace for AI aging companions developing over the next few years?

I believe there is lots of room for entrepreneurs to create wonderful products that celebrate aging and help fulfill the needs of an underserved population. We are moving towards an era where artificial intelligence is being integrated into a wide variety of technology and aging tech is one sector that can benefit greatly from it. With advancements in cognitive computing, we’ll see more and more autonomous systems that make independent decisions against goals humans set, and then act upon them.


Are there other projects that Intuition Robotics are working on that you would like to discuss?

We are currently focused only on ElliQ.


About Dor Skuler
A serial entrepreneur, 39-year-old Dor Skuler has co-founded five ventures, the most recent being Intuition Robotics, following his passion for developing artificial intelligence-driven robotics that address major social issues of the 21st century.
Having trained in Israel’s elite military intelligence unit 8200, Dor made a mark on interactive broadcast technology with Zing Interactive Media (acquired by Invesco, NASDAQ: IVZ) and security software through Safend (acquired by Wave Systems Corp, NASDAQ: WAVX). Dor then joined Alcatel-Lucent to create and lead innovative ventures, most notably Cloudband (NYSE:ALU), the world’s first platform for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), cited by Nokia as a major motive to purchasing the French-American telecoms giant. As Senior Vice President at Alcatel-Lucent, Dor was a regular speaker on the telecoms circuit, frequently cited in the media and made the Global Telecom Business ’40 under 40’ list in 2009, 2011 and 2013.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow

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