Recent research into how robots and humans interact with each other, has discovered that artificial robot pets actually make better companions, particularly for the elderly, than their real life counterparts.
NBC News is reporting that Thomas an 82 year old man suffering from advanced dementia and living in an an old folks home in Brisbane, Australia, made significant improvements to his condition after being introduced to PARO, an advanced robotic pet designed to resemble a baby seal pup.
Thomas had stopped speaking and interacting with staff and other residents at the home until he was introduced to the advanced, touch sensitive robot seal, which he held as if it was a baby and appeared to be genuinely touched as the artificial pet nuzzled up under his chin.
When it was time for PARO to go Thomas astounded staff by uttering the first words he had spoken in years, “Goodbye Paro”.
Further research into how the elderly reacted to PARO discovered that their was more interaction with the robot seal than was observed when they were introduced to a real life living dog, people tended to speak more to the robot, as well as touching it more often than the dog.
A study in Germany which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fmri), to measure emotional response in the brain, showed that people responded similarly when shown videos and images of both humans and robots being subjected to violence, this was also true when they witnessed people and robots being shown affection.
It can be extremely difficult for the elderly or disabled to take on the responsibility of caring for a real living, breathing creature such as a dog or cat, however an artificial companion such as a robot pet is capable of providing the necessary stimulation to the affection and nurturing sides of our brain’s to provide real comfort and emotional well being to their owners.
There is also the added advantage that robot pets don’t bite or scratch, or increase the workload for owners by leaving smelly little deposits all over the house and it is very doubtful that they will ever run away.
Unfortunately if you want to buy yourself or a loved one an advanced robotic pet such as PARO, it will set you back around $5,000 or almost £3,500, to put that insane price tag into robot pet perspective, you could possibly buy fifty Robot Dinosaurs or a whole plethora of robotic birds for the same price.