A graduate of the prestigious Centrale Supélec engineering school, he could have had a brilliant career in consulting like many of his friends. At 23, Tanel Petelot sees things differently: “I prefer to use my skills to solve a painful problem and take care of people who have real concerns: the elderly,” he explains.
“Among the 7.8 million seniors over the age of 75 in France, 6.9 million live at home,” he recalls. “A good number of them leave their homes very little and hardly ever meet anyone. With the risk of experiencing cognitive decline and sinking into depression. According to the World Health Organization, between 8 and 16% of people over 65 suffer from this disease in the world and 12 to 15% of people over 85.
This is what prompted Tanel and his three partners to launch Emobot in April 2022, a small white robot 25 cm high with very reassuring curves. Nothing to do with a useless geek gadget. His mission ? Monitoring a person’s emotional state over a long period of time to prevent possible mood disorders. Thanks to its integrated camera and artificial intelligence system, the robot continuously analyzes facial expressions, the dynamism of movements and the tone of voice for several weeks. If he detects a change in abnormal behavior or warning signs of depression, he immediately alerts the medical staff.
It took more than 15 years of research to develop this device.
“I had been working for several years with a doctor at Paris Descartes University. He wanted to use technology to prevent falls and help the elderly stay at home,” says Renaud Seguier, professor of artificial intelligence at the engineering school. Centrale Supélec and he too in the Emobot adventure. “With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it was obviously out of the question to install cameras everywhere in people’s homes. On the other hand, it was possible to embed artificial intelligence in small robots capable of processing thousands of live data without recording them. »
The formula immediately appealed to Lucien André, 85, living in a house in Yvelines with his wife. “When my granddaughter told me about Emobot and explained to me how it worked, I immediately said yes,” he says. “It was above all the fact that the images remain in the robot that decided me. I talked to my doctor about it and he said banco. I find it reassuring that Emobot is there to notify my children and my doctor in case I feel a little lonely and depressed. »
Obviously, the technology has a cost: count a budget of 40€ per month over three years. “The objective is to get our robot recognized as a medical device so that it can be covered by health insurance,” explains Tanel Petelot. Now deployed in fifty nursing homes in France, the concept will be presented in January at CES in Las Vegas, the world’s largest exhibition devoted to innovation.
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This robot takes care of the emotional state of the elderly
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