A CARE ROBOT AS A HOUSEHOLD COMPANION.

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“Mother, have you eaten and taken your medication? Don’t forget that the doctor is coming soon.” Caregivers can spend a whole day making such phone calls. That’s why Wang Long Li designed TESSA to take over these care tasks. 

Founder Wang Long Li: “Years ago, my father became very ill, and together with my mother, I took care of him. So, I experienced firsthand what it’s like to be a caregiver. When I saw how important caregiving is, I wanted to give back. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to make a difference in healthcare.

Through TESSA, you see that the elderly regain better contact with family and caregivers. 

Wang Long Li, Tinybots

I studied engineering and psychology, but I was also interested in robotics. Specifically, how you can use technology to improve healthcare. I noticed that many great things were being built, but I also wondered if they had the right impact on the human aspect. I started researching the elderly and dementia, and what the new generation of technology could mean in that regard. Care robots already existed, but they were mainly developed from an industrial perspective. The research taught me that for the elderly, it’s not just about convenience or comfort, but much more about maintaining independence. A woman with dementia once told me literally: ‘when the doorbell rings, I feel a lot of stress. If at that moment there was an angel who would tell me: ‘it’s your grandson, you agreed to go shopping together,’ then I would feel much more confident.’ 

That’s why we came up with the idea of TESSA. Currently, TESSA looks like a small cute flowerpot, homely, not too technological, that the elderly can place in their homes. The caregiver or healthcare provider can remotely set the care tasks, appointments, or instructions. The software is in the cloud, and TESSA will soon be able to connect to a phone, watch, or other smart devices. TESSA then communicates with the elderly. For example: ‘don’t forget to take your medication, can I help you with anything else?’ or ‘put on your coat, it’s cold outside.’ In 2017, we established ourselves in Rotterdam because of our team. There are many technical people here, with TU Delft nearby and of course, Erasmus University. 

UP!Rotterdam has supported us greatly in building a network in Rotterdam. It’s impressive how they connect founders with each other. The network they introduced us to is very valuable. You learn from each other, but also from each other’s mistakes. They create a culture where you can share all those lessons because what you don’t do well can be valuable lessons. We think every day about how we can further develop our product. Right now, we’re working on developing something similar for people with acquired brain injury or autism so that this group also regains more self-regulation. 

For new entrepreneurs, I would say: the most important thing is to learn quickly and keep learning, because if something is difficult (for everyone) and it’s difficult to copy, it gives you an edge over competitors.”

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Wang Long Li is one of our Rotterdam Icons. Curious about the other Icons? Click here to meet them!

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