Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Robotic Baby Seal for Elderly

This robot seal has been used for human therapy since 2003. It has been named the "world's most theraputic robot" by Guiness book of records.


Robot seal there to be petted
11 May 2005

A Japanese robot designed to replace household pets has been given the seal of approval by Christchurch's [New Zealand] elderly.

The world's first robotic seal, nicknamed Paro, visited a Christchurch resthome yesterday and was greeted with great enthusiasm.

The cat-sized robot was designed at a cost of $15 million to take the place of pets in Japan where many people were unable to keep animals in their apartments, inventor Takanori Shibata said.

PARO had sensors all over its body, moved when stroked and made the same noise as real seal pups, he said.

A Japanese university study found stroking Paro's thick fur had a powerful positive effect on the elderly and those in hospital who were often deprived of contact with furry creatures, Shibata said.

During the 12 years it took for Shibata to design Paro he visited the Canadian ice fields and recorded seal noises and videotaped the way the animals moved.

Before deciding to design a robotic seal, Shibata made cat and dog robot prototypes. But he found people's expectations of the domestic animals were too high because they had experienced them before.

Shibata said he finally decided on making a seal robot because they were small, cute, had soft fur and were a novelty.

Four hundred Paro robots had been sold in Japan since going on the market at the beginning of this year, Shibata said.

STUFF New Zealand's leading news and information website



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