New type of human-robot relationship demonstrated through ElliQ, the sidekick for happier aging, validates far broader applications for cognitive AI agent technology
Intuition Robotics, developer of digital companion technologies, announced that it has raised $36M in Series B funding co-led by SPARX Group and OurCrowd, bringing the company’s total funding to $58M. Additional investors in the round include: Toyota AI Ventures, Sompo Holdings, iRobot, Union Tech Ventures, Happiness Capital, Samsung Next, Capital Point and Bloomberg Beta. Intuition Robotics currently employs 85 people with offices in Israel, San Francisco and Greece.
Intuition Robotics will use the new funding to fuel its mission to create enduring relationships between humans and machines through digital companion agents that influence users’ behaviors and emotions, starting with improving the lives of older adults. The company will invest in advancing its technology, cognitive AI capabilities and tools, and plans to expand the availability of its digital companion into domains beyond longevity and automotive.
“This investment will fuel the evolution of agents from utilitarian digital assistants to full-fledged digital companions that are at our side, anticipating our needs and seamlessly, proactively improving our lives by helping us achieve certain outcomes,” said Dor Skuler, CEO and Co-Founder of Intuition Robotics. “Our cognitive AI technology has the potential to transform the way people and machines interact through empathetic relationships built on trust, exhibiting highly personalized and delightful experiences that amplify our customers’ brands.”
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“Intuition Robotics is creating disruptive technology that will inspire companies to re-imagine how machines might amplify the human experience,” said Jim Adler, Founding Managing Partner at Toyota AI Ventures, who will join the company’s Board of Directors. “I’m proud to join the company’s board and partner with management on this exciting journey.”
“In the future, robots will provide a more proactive, empathetic, and personalized user experience,” said Colin Angle, CEO of Series B investor iRobot. “Intuition Robotics is redefining what’s possible through cutting-edge technology and deep insights regarding how people and machines interact.”
Intuition Robotics defines a digital companion agent as the natural evolution of the digital assistant, replacing utilitarian voice command with a bi-directional relationship that is based on empathy, trust and anticipation of needs. This relationship is possible through the cognitive agent technology developed by Intuition Robotics allowing proactive, multi-modal, personalized interactions, expressed through a distinct character, handcrafted per agent implementation and customer.
Generating proactive AI agents that users accept has been long-sought by the industry, and Intuition Robotics’ approach of creating a cognitive, goal-driven agent – whose behavior is triggered by contextual understanding and adaptation after learning from its user – creates a non-deterministic, nonlinear experience. The cognitive agent uses a unique approach that combines state-driven policies defined by experts with hierarchical reinforcement learning. This allows the agent to be successfully proactive from the get-go, while it studies its user and drifts towards a more personalized experience over time.
Over the last 12 months, ElliQ, the social companion robot that aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation, has spent over 10,000 days in older adults’ homes in the US. A majority of users are 80-90 years old and have each spent at least 90 consecutive days with ElliQ. The company observed a surprising sense of attachment towards ElliQ. Older adults refer to ElliQ as an entity that is almost lifelike rather than a device. ElliQ engages them proactively in activities and conversation to promote their well-being. Currently, ElliQ users participate in an average of eight interactions per day, at least two of which are actions initiated proactively by ElliQ, totaling in six minutes of net interaction (excluding consumption of media and content) per day.
In addition, Intuition Robotics is collaborating with leading automotive customers such as Toyota Research Institute (TRI). The automotive industry is going through discontinuity. On one hand, sophisticated sensors and the beginning of autonomy are rapidly burgeoning, yet on the other, the in-car experience hasn’t drastically changed, while automakers face fierce competition from large tech companies to take ownership of the future in-car experience. A revolutionized human machine interface (HMI) in the car is on the horizon, providing automakers the unique opportunity to become early adopters of digital companion agent technology.