Talking Dog Research: MIT Startup GeriJoy and Pace University Collaborate to Determine Clinical Efficacy of Virtual Companions for Senior Care

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GeriJoy provides virtual talking dogs as companions for the elderly. Following anecdotal evidence of GeriJoy's senior companionship service improving mental health and even rolling back Alzheimer's, Pace University will begin a research study this summer to determine the clinical efficacy of the GeriJoy Companion system.

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.

GeriJoy Companion

This unique study could help pioneer a future in which even the nearly one million American Alzheimer's patients who live by themselves do not need to be alone.

Research shows that loneliness is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer's, other functional decline, and even death in seniors over the age of 60. GeriJoy, an MIT startup, has developed virtual talking dogs as companions for the elderly, with the goal of reducing loneliness and improving mental health, especially for dementia patients. The clinical impact of the GeriJoy Companion for the elderly will be measured this summer during a research study to be conducted by Pace University, using resources from a Verizon Foundation grant it had received to support innovative technology projects. The research is entitled "I Am Dougie, Your Virtual Service Dog: An Intervention to Address Loneliness in Older Adults."

"This unique study could help pioneer a future in which even the nearly one million American Alzheimer's patients who live by themselves do not need to be alone," said GeriJoy CEO Victor Wang in a press statement, "and we are very pleased to have the outstanding experts at Pace's Gerontech Team conducting this research."

The Gerontechnology Research Team at Pace University is led by a multidisciplinary group of professors and researchers, including Lin Drury, Ph.D., RN, and Sharon Wexler, Ph.D., RN, with the College of Health Professions at Pace; and Jean Coppola, Ph.D., with the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Together, they combine computer science and information technology expertise with Pace's world-class nursing program and access to senior care partners in New York.

"GeriJoy is a very innovative and inexpensive technology for a quickly growing aging population," remarked Prof. Coppola, "and we're excited by this technology because not only does it improve quality of life for older adults by engaging them through companionship, family photos and conversation, but also it helps caregivers by providing real-time reports and peace of mind."

While previous psychological assessments have suggested that the GeriJoy Companion can improve mental health for seniors and even combat dementia, this study is the first third-party clinical evaluation of the GeriJoy Companion by an academic institution. It thus represents a significant corporate milestone for GeriJoy, which presented recently at the annual MIT "Venture Mentoring Service" Demo Day, an invite-only event which connects leading angel and venture capital investors with an exclusive selection of top MIT startups.

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) GeriJoy(dot)com.

About Pace
Since 1906, Pace has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in Lower Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. For more information, please visit

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