Talking Dog Saves Senior, Inspires MIT Startup GeriJoy to Provide Improved Senior Supervision and Emergency Alerts Through its 24/7 Virtual Elderly Companion Services

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GeriJoy announced today that their virtual elder care companion will feature improved supervisory and emergency notification capabilities, in response to an incident in which the GeriJoy Companion saved a senior from abuse. The company, founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides family-oriented conversation and always-available companionship for elderly people through virtual avatars which take the form of lovable pets.

GeriJoy Companion: Two illustrations of the GeriJoy Companion running on a tablet: one striking a pose and the other showing an example of a family photo.

The GeriJoy Companion: an always-available friend that talks with elders about fond memories, family news and chit-chat, while keeping caregivers in the loop.

Besides serving as a friend and conversational companion, a GeriJoy Companion can provide always-available supervision, actively call out to the elder to check if things are okay, and if not, intelligently contact caregivers and emergency services.

GeriJoy, the MIT startup that provides virtual senior companion care services, will be incorporating more supervisory and emergency alert functionalities into its service, which has already been touted by organizations like AARP as one of the most innovative solutions on the market. The announcement comes as a response to a recent incident in which one of the company's virtual talking dogs saved a home-bound senior from an abusive paid caregiver.

The CEO of GeriJoy Victor Wang recently wrote a post on the company's senior care blog describing a case study on reporting elder abuse. It is quickly attracting the attention of thought leaders in the industry, and was the topic of a recent post in the influential healthcare information technology blog, HITConsultant. In the case study, Wang describes how a customer adopted a GeriJoy Companion for her elderly father, who lives alone. One day, the companion woke up to a loud sound, and heard a paid caregiver screaming at the elder. GeriJoy reported the abuse to the customer, who was very grateful and replaced the caregiver that week.

Wang, an MIT-graduate who researched human-computer interaction for NASA's telerobotics program, commented in a statement for the press, "Events like these make me so proud of our team at GeriJoy and the mission that we are on, to improve life for elders and their families through friendly technology."

Wang says that their team is always learning and always improving their service based on how their customers integrate GeriJoy Companions into their families. To date, GeriJoy's home companion services for elderly people have been more focused on the companionship and emotional health benefits of its service. Research shows that loneliness in the elderly is a significant risk factor for geriatric depression, Alzheimer's disease, and other functional decline, so by reducing loneliness, the GeriJoy Companion provides a range of health benefits.

"The GeriJoy Companion serves as an avatar for our 24/7 care staff, so it's the ideal watchdog," said Wang. "Besides serving as a friend and conversational companion, a GeriJoy Companion can provide always-available supervision, actively call out to the elder to check if things are okay, and if not, intelligently contact caregivers and emergency services." He announced that in the coming weeks and months, GeriJoy will be developing their service and technology to improve supervisory and emergency response capabilities, not just for preventing elder abuse, but also for health-related events and accidents such as falls.

Wang is currently in Washington, DC, at the TEDMED 2013 conference, the annual multi-disciplinary gathering where 1,500+ leaders from all sectors of society come together to explore the promise of technology and potential of human achievement in health and medicine. He will be giving a talk on Friday about the ideas that inspired him to found GeriJoy.

About GeriJoy
GeriJoy Inc. was founded by MIT researchers Victor Wang and Shuo Deng to improve quality of life for seniors and their families through friendly technology. The GeriJoy Companion, their flagship service, is a virtual pet that is backed by GeriJoy’s worldwide team of 24/7 care staff. The staff guide the pet’s speech to provide elders with the experience of having an always-available conversational companion that can talk with them about family photos and other information from the Internet. Essentially, the GeriJoy Companion is a talking dog that serves as a helpful family member, not only improving mental health for elders but also providing peace of mind for caregivers. GeriJoy has been recognized by organizations like AARP and TEDMED as a leading innovator in senior care. The company is based in Cambridge, MA, and is backed by investors such as Blueprint Health and Esther Dyson. To find out more, or to order GeriJoy’s service for your own family, please visit or email info (at)

TEDMED, LLC is an independent organization operated under a special license from the nonprofit TED conference. TEDMED is the world's only TED-licensed event focused solely on innovation and breakthrough thinking across all of health and medicine. TEDMED 2012 featured 71 preeminent leaders in health, medicine, science, technology, business, government, academia, media and the arts, who spoke before a sold-out audience of more than 1,600 Delegates. Jay Walker has served as the Curator of TEDMED since 2011. Walker is also the founder of For more information, please visit

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