It comes as no surprise that loneliness is bad for us, impacting on both our physical and mental health.
Loneliness amongst older generations is something that has been well-documented and is an issue in itself. However we often forget that younger generations also suffer.
That’s an issue the creators of Fribo are looking to tackle. In the United States, there are over 5 million young adults between the ages of 18-35 living alone, and that number is growing.
Obviously, many of them are doing so out of choice and are perfectly happy. Others in that number feel isolated and alone though.
Fribo is designed to give young adults a way to maintain connections with each other on a daily basis.
To do this, it essentially monitors what goes on in your daily life, your activities around the house along with your friends’.
Perhaps that sounds a bit creepier than it’s meant to. Fribo will listen in for ‘living noise’ and uses minimal voice recognition – and won’t record any voices like other traditional personal tech-assistants.
Things like you coming through the front door, the vacuum cleaner or the fridge opening trigger the robot. It can also learn new noises over time.
After hearing a noise it will send a message to the Fribo or multiple Fribos in your network of friends. Triggering them into picking up conversation on something you’re currently doing.
This is so cute! I love the concept of keeping people in touch, but also George Orwell and Black Mirror have traumatized me.
— 💌 (@sophylen) April 12, 2018
The researchers, from Yonsei University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), let some small friend groups (three people) of young adults (average age 25) try out an earlier version of Fribo for four weeks; here’s some of what they had to say about the experience of living with the robot:
“I can imagine what my friend is doing and I feel like we live in the same house, but in another room. It’s like sharing daily life activities with friends.”
“I usually wake up late in the morning, but when I began to notice my friends getting ready early, I started thinking about starting the day earlier with my friends.”
“[Fribo] helped break the silence and emptiness I felt at home after work. It is a different experience from the TV because it gives information about my friends’ activities. The robot seems like a living creature.”
I feel like this certainly seems like a better idea for the elderly who live alone, no?
— isaac (@isaactoth) April 12, 2018
It’s definitely an interesting concept, it seems it could definitely serve a purpose with older generations too.