AI-driven community facilitator “Squiboon” amongst Design Age Institute’s newest Award Winners

Age Action Alliance members Design Age Institute at the Royal College of Art has announced the latest round of investment from their Pathfinder Innovation Programme, which invests in good design to help bring an array of products and services for the UK’s ageing population towards market.

The projects (a link to the full list is below) were announced come under two separate call-outs to innovators and contribute to the Institute’s portfolio of thirty projects for the healthy ageing marketplace.

The winners include AAA members Squiboon, whose exciting innovation we described in this article:

Squiboon is the world’s first community facilitator powered by artificial intelligence. It’s a collaboration between renowned psychologist and healthy ageing researcher Dr Sarah Campbell and machine learning experts at the University of Bristol, and was co-designed with older adults at Whiteley Village, a retirement community in Surrey.

From the outside it looks like a smart TV plus a simple-to-use controller. It’s there to spark and steer structured conversations between residents; and, as with a good human facilitator, everyone gets a chance to speak and common interests are identified. Squiboon keeps things dynamic, respectful, constructive and inclusive. By doing so, it fosters cohesive, inclusive communities, ensuring everyone feels respected and heard.

Critically, it has been co-designed by and for older adults in residential retirement and care home settings; and, already, by getting people talking and connecting, Squiboon is proving to be effective in combating social isolation, loneliness and the devastating knock-on effects these have to health. From the perspective of housing and care providers, the “gripes” that come up in conversations are anonymised but patterns of complaints or concerns are flagged up which providers can act upon.

 “We are delighted to receive the funding from Design Age Institute to continue the exciting development of our Squiboon product, says Dr Sarah Campbell CEO, Squiboon, “and help tackle the life-threatening loneliness epidemic faced by older people today. DAI’s inclusive design approach is at the heart of our product development process, as we look to build breakthrough software within a physical Talking Stick product that is both intuitive to use and transformative in its impact in forging close communities for those in later life.”

The full list of winners is available here:

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