Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Meet the Robotic Cat for the Elderly


 
Robotic_Cat

Robot – Companion Pet – Fight Loneliness


A Robot `companion pet’ created by toy maker Hasbor, is the first product in the Joy for All range. It is an initiative which Hasbor states will be beyond play and in areas which would fight bigger issues especially loneliness. Jim McGuckin, a resident at Lake Park, which is a care home for the aged in the city of Oakland, California states that `he feels like a real cat when Alan is placed on the lap and can feel the movements inside’.

Alan is the name given to the robotic `companion pet’. The robocat has been designed to imitate a real cat and tends to meow semi convincingly, and also tends to purr. It’s nice to stroke its fluffy body though the rigidness of Alan’s’ electronic insides tends to spoil any illusion that it is genuine.

Inspite of its flaws, it tends to work and when it is switched on, you instinctively say a hello and then onwards it is no longer a gadget but a cat. The cat is said to react to communication through a series of fairly basic sensors all over its body and a stroke of Alan’s back would make him purr and a trickle of the cheek would incite a meow.

Created for Interactive Companion


If it tends to get dark, one would hear Alan yawn and nod off and the movements are not predictable which adds to its lifelikeness. However, Vice president of business development for Hasbro, Ted Fischer comments that this could not be a replacement for a pet and incidentally for one who is allergic to cats.

It has been created with the intention of interactive companion that is familiar as well has characteristics and is realistic. The opportunity for Hasbro seems enormous as the population of the world tends to age. Research recommends that there is a real advantage in offering people with companion robots especially if they tend to suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

A Japanese designed robotic seal, `Paro’ is without question the adorable thing when it is on show at tech shows. Great thoughts have gone into the development of Paro in making it extremely lifelike and adorable.

A Distraction/Friendly Face Making them Feel Better


Charging Paro is a delight wherein it can be plugged by popping a dummy into his mouth. It seems to be more advanced than Hasbro’s cat though considerably more expensive and at around $5,000, Paro is advertised as a medical device. Paro seems to be utilised all around the world including in Britain’s NHS. Dialogues which will take place later in the year would look into the expansion of the number of Paros in UK hospitals as well as care homes.

This is because; people are getting real benefits on cuddling up to the robotic companion pet with a sense of empowerment. Dr Simon Davies from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in California has commented saying that their pet therapy dog can only work for a certain amount of the day.

Dogs tend to have more of a mind of their own than Paro and are not always going to get along with everyone. Not everyone seems to be happy and comfortable with dogs. Allan and the other robotic companions seems silly to people who do not have the need for them but for those who do, it could be a distraction or a friendly face which would make them feel better even if it was for a momentarily period.

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