Residents at the Emeritus Senior Living were entertained by a robot disguised as a baby harp seal covered with soft white fur, last week. The robot is an interactive PARO robot named Pikitti.
The robot is meant for providing the positive effects of animal therapy, without having to deal with the hassles of keeping a real animal. Pikitti weighs 6 lbs and is able to feel and react to human touch with the help of the camera in its nose and sensors fitted inside. The robot comes equipped with voice recognition abilities; hence, it is able to reciprocate to kind words by cooing and wagging its tail. Takanori Shibata from Japan has designed the robot.
Patients ailing with dementia are comforted by Pikitti and it has shown capabilities of calming down patients who are agitated. Corey Tague, who heads the education wing of Passages Hospice, has gifted the robot to the Emeritus residents. Even residents who weren’t very comfortable in interacting with animals were happy with the way Pikitti responded to their touch. One of the employees at Passages commented that the robot was liked universally at home. Tague went on to say that Passages visit around 15 to 20 nursing homes every month, taking Pikitti and his little sister seal Dala along. Passages are planning to buy the third seal that would be introduced soon. They are conducting a naming competition among the employees to come up with suggestions for the name and gender of the third seal robot..