The AI dolls to tackle loneliness of South Korea’s elderly (and watch them)

The AI dolls to tackle loneliness of South Korea’s elderly (and watch them)

To solve the loneliness epidemic, a Korean-based company has launched an AI companion doll for seniors.

Showcased at the Mobile World Congress at the end of February, Hyodol unleashed the $1800 robot doll which they say will bring emotional support to the elderly throughout their day.

With a slightly creepy exterior, the doll is home to a mobile communication module, processor, various sensors, and speakers. It’s powered by large language model-based artificial intelligence and can hold full conversations.

It can even remind people to take medication and safety features are installed that alert when no movement has been detected for a certain period. It really is always watching.

Speaking to Aju Korea Daily ahead of the conference, on February 20, Hyodol CEO Kim Ji-hee said: “The global recognition of the achievements of AI-based care robots in the home market, South Korea, is very meaningful.

“Starting with our participants in MWC, we will officially launch Hyodol robots in the European and North American markets in the second half of 2024,”

South Korea has a rapidly aging population

The Hyodol robot has been embraced by South Korea’s local governments due to its ability to help the older population. Around 7,000 dolls have been deployed to seniors living alone and it’s also being used with dementia patients at a university hospital in Gangwon province.

It would be easy to scoff at the idea of a doll being used to tackle loneliness but South Korea has serious population problems.

The country has rapidly aging citizens coupled with the world’s lowest birth rate and increasing life expectancy. This demographic shift is putting significant pressure on South Korea’s care sector, its shrinking workforce, as well as the pension and healthcare systems.

The AI robot doll company has been collecting data and research from numerous studies to determine the impact this has on the people who need companionship most.

In one study, with a user number of 9000+, Hyodol found that depression levels reduced from 5.73 to 3.14. Medicine intake improved too, going from 2.69 to 2.87.

Aside from motion detection, other features include touch interaction, 24-hour voice reminders, check-ins, voice messages, a health coach, quizzes, exercise, music, and more.

For caregivers, they have an insight into the application too as they can send and receive voice messages, do group announcements, and see constant motion detection.

Featured image: Hyodol website

The post “The AI dolls to tackle loneliness of South Korea’s elderly (and watch them)” by Sophie Atkinson was published on 03/11/2024 by