A significant percentage of older adults live alone. According to Age UK and the U S. Institute on Aging, nearly half of adults 75 and older live alone in the U.K. and U.S. Older adults who live alone often have trouble remembering to take medication, connecting with family and friends, keeping appointments, and staying physically active.

Intuition Robotics recently introduced Elli-Q, an artificial intelligence-based robot that can act as a companion to help older people stay active and engaged. Because of the Elli-Q design aesthetic, the first public showing is at The Design Museum in London in January. The physical design consists of a tray with a two-piece articulated robot and a stand with a separate display screen that can be held in the hand or left in place. The Elli-Q robot uses lights, sounds, speech, images, and movement to communicate and to express what its creator calls “emotional expressions.” The screen displays user-chosen content and can serve a two-way video communication function with family members or caregivers.

The design concept uses machine learning to react, engage, and communicate reminders and suggestions. The system monitors activity and stores information like prescriptions and calendars. Over time the idea is Elli-Q will learn the user’s preferences, behavior, and personality. In addition to medication and appointment reminders, the robot will proactively recommend activities based on user history and on family input. Other potential functions include wellness and environmental monitoring, personalized music, audio books, social media access, photo sharing, and messaging.

Robotic companions such as Elli-Q have potential applications in wellness and health care for many populations. Intuition Robotics has not released pricing, technical data, or launch schedules for Elli-Q, but will run its first trial phase in the U.S. in homes of older adults in California in the Bay Area, starting in February 2017.