” Making seniors feel less lonely with our social robot ”

Max Vuijk, Business Analist & Naïma van Esch, Senior Experience Engineer

Max recently joined as a project management consultant and is using Deloitte’s project diversity to further his understanding of his own ambitions. Naïma, whose interest was sparked by Deloitte’s Fast 50 list, ended up opting for the creator of that list.

We find Max and Naïma in a super fun and inspiring workshop in the Garage, Deloitte Digital’s location in Amsterdam. Not quite the type of place you’d expect an organisation like Deloitte to occupy. Surrounded by a plethora of robot demos and mock-ups, Max and Naïma’s enthusiasm speaks for itself as they operate the workbench. Just like Apple’s humble beginnings in a garage, this is where the story of Alice begins; a social robot that helps alleviate loneliness among seniors.

All Deloitte employees are allowed to spend 1% of their time on Deloitte Impact Foundation projects. And so it happens that Max, the project manager in charge of the emotional support robot Alice, is able to work on this remarkable project together with Naïma who has been working on the project 1 day a week (plus in her spare time) as well.

Max: Deloitte helps discover your strengths and allows you to apply and improve them by working on a wide range of projects.

Max speaks to how he got to know Deloitte through a Facebook ad for Deloitte’s Program Leadership Inhouse Day. He knew that consulting was going to be his game, but he was not yet quite clear on the details. Thanks to Deloitte, he was able to pinpoint his strengths and passion and is now enjoying a wealth of opportunities for fulfilling his ambitions and improving his skills. “I have been learning so much from various projects and specialists – truly inspiring and educational.”   

Together with Naïma and other Deloitte specialists, he is now working on the development of a social robot for seniors – an initiative by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam that was picked up on by Deloitte due to its social impact and the knowledge development opportunity it poses. Deloitte shares its knowledge and expertise through the Deloitte Impact Foundation. It is a two-way street: seniors benefit from the innovation while Deloitte employees make a real difference and experience genuine gratitude.

They both agree that the Alice project feels like working at a start-up. “We work with various Deloitte specialists, external specialists and customers. Deloitte is more interested in developing Alice’s personality and intelligence as opposed to her appearance. We also collaborate with VU professors who help us with sociological aspects of social robotics. And then there is the target group; lonely seniors with whom we perform short cyclical tests in order to improve our understanding of their needs and determine the most prudent steps for the next version of our robot. All our activities are organised according to an iterative development cycle where we work towards the answers to our design principles. These principles are:

  1. Alice is personal
  2. Alice is a tool to facilitate the user
  3. Knowledge sharing to create an impact
  4. It’s ok to not be perfect
  5. Co-creation with users
  6. User in control (settings)”

Max values the opportunity to have a social project in his portfolio, and this is even more true for Naïma who has a background in healthcare. They will do whatever they can to help seniors and turn Alice into a huge success. In any case, it is a project that allows them to make a real and tangible impact – most importantly for lonely seniors who are excited by the mere prospect of their visits.

What impact will you make?

Are you looking for a job that’s out of the ordinary, that you can truly make your own? Do you want to work, like Max and Naïma, in an inspiring environment with exceptional people? Check out our vacancies and apply!

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