Beyond the tragedy of the disease itself, COVID-19 has compounded factors that impact the health of aging adults: social isolation, difficulty traveling, lack of cognitive engagement, and emergency concerns. Several assistance robots have emerged to assist with mental exercises, virtual provider appointments, and connecting to loved ones. With Cutii, a robot presented at CES 2021, CareClever has leaned into the idea of a robot “companion” that combines the features above with impressive mobility and full voice interaction.

Whether Cutii lives up to its name is a matter of debate. Roughly 3-feet tall, Cutii has a vase-shaped body with a tablet-like head that shows a childlike line-drawing of a face when at rest. The name itself sounds like something you’d call a furry companion rather than a cutting-edge robot that helps seniors live independently. Although well-intentioned, CareClever’s clumsy branding and design risks infantilizing elderhood; not all seniors will enjoy having to ask something called ‘Cutii’ for help multiple times a day.

Nevertheless, Cutii’s range of capabilities should mostly make up for its uncomfortable attempt at warm-fuzziness. Simple voice commands yield fast results. Ask Cutii to send a message to a friend and the robot quickly opens a chat screen, takes dictation, and reads replies aloud. Cutii gives verbal reminders when it’s time to take medication, or to make sure users prepare ahead for activities and appointments. The robot doesn’t just remember important birthdays; it also helps write and send greetings.

Seniors can connect to loved ones virtually with a few quick commands over the robots high-resolution audio and video interface, and healthcare appointments are just as convenient. Users can say “Cutii, help!” to reach an emergency contact; CareClever soon hopes to integrate an autonomous patrol feature that can identify an emergency situation passively if the user can’t ask for help.

Now launching in markets across the globe, the robot is already in use in the US and France. In long-term care facilities and homes, seniors use Cutii to play games or join live activities that entertain and support cognitive skills. Other players can also join in the fun. By keeping older adults connected and engaged, the robot helps fight depression and age-related cognitive decline. Perhaps that’s why Cutii always has a smile on its face.