Hyderabad: With social isolation among the elderly being increasingly seen as the cause for dementia, anxiety and suicidal tendencies, city-based Achala IT Solutions has come up with a concept to provide the senior citizens with ‘companion robots’ that will engage them in conversation, keep them active and will also relay information to caregivers in times of emergencies.
The robots, to be produced under the brand Elro, will also check health vitals like BP, sugar, temperature and oxygen saturation levels regularly, connect with a doctor and get prescribed medicines delivered to home. It will also play videos, cognitive games, connect with friends and family, and also remind them about taking pills on time, said Achala chief executive officer and founder Rajesh Raju.
“We want to use mini-robots to help the elderly deal with issues of loneliness. For now, the language used by the robots will be English but will be available in vernacular languages as and when they are added to Google Assistant and Alexa platforms, on which Elro is based,” he said, adding: “You can just say OK Google. Check my BP. It will do.”
In the backend, it keeps learning the routines of the elders and tries to initiate conversations. It will ask random questions to screen for signs of dementia or depression. It will know about the interests and delve deep into such topics to keep the conversations going.
The conversation can be with the device or with similar groups through Elro. There will be an assessment by a psychiatrist and the changes suggested will be incorporated into the routine by its smart calendar.
The device will keep a tab on self-autonomy, environmental mastery, and self-acceptance. “We will work to increase the sense of satisfaction and this will lower the chances of depression,” he said.
Elro’s desktop version will be launched soon. Tools for measuring blood pressure, blood glucose, heart rate, SP02 and temperature will be integrated into it. Its 10-inch screen will come in handy in video consultations,calls friends and family members, and putting up reminders. It will be priced at Rs 25,000 and will come with select bundled offerings.
There is a monthly subscription of Rs 1,500 to cover conversations and social activities. It will be pay-per-use for doctor video consultations and ordering of medicines.
Achala is also working on a three-feet humanoid, which can navigate within home, have capabilities to find the elderly and transmit the video to emergency response in case of a fall. All conversations and data with the elderly are encrypted and anonymized.
Elro is compliant with the National Digital Health Mission standards for security and privacy.
“Pilot will go on in October and November and we hope to begin sales in December. We will assemble the robot and are working with a few companies locally for components,” said Jyotish Vegesna, another co-founder.
Achala is among the select startups that are getting support from Telangana State government through the T-Aim (under the Emerging Technologies wing). “T-Aim has been a great support to us. We have received benefits from service providers like Amazon Cloud and more for piloting our product using the credits,” he said.