Meet Jennie. Jennie has golden fur, shiny brown eyes, and a tail that wags without end. She will lean in on you if you scratch behind her ears. Moreover, she will also bark if you command her to do so. By now, you are thinking we are talking about my pet dog. But, no. Jennie is the name of robotic pets. Let’s know more about robotic pets in detail.
Jennie is being developed to assist people with dementia to cope with their lives in a better way. She is a Tombot, the first of her kind, designed by Santa Clarita, a robotics firm based out of California.
Especially with older people and middle-aged people, loneliness is a problem that has become inevitable these days. According to a recent survey, more than a third of the people who are older than 45 years feel lonely. Additionally, about twenty percent of people older than 60 suffer from mental disorders. Loneliness is the root cause of many of these ailments and can further lead to anxiety and depression.
Animal Assisted Therapy
According to previous research, having a pet helps with the overall mood and wellbeing of old aged people. Further, it is also found to help people who have dementia. Since this technology is new and still in the testing phase, it is too early to say whether robopets are as effective as the real ones. But so far, it has been observed to yield good results, and reduce stress and depression in senior people.
The most significant advantage of having a Robopet is that you don’t have to feed them or take them out for a walk. They are very low on maintenance and suitable, especially for people who are old and cannot be active.
Research On Robotic Pets
Research around Animal-assisted therapy is limited as of today. Still, there is enough evidence to say that it may prove to be a solution to an age-old problem faced by people with dementia or even Alzheimer’s for that matter.
There were similar efforts made by people from the robotics industry to help people with dementia. One such example is PARO. PARO is a cute seal pup that can make cooing sounds that are found to relieve stress in old aged people. You most probably have heard of the incredible Robodog Aibo by now. Aibo also has advanced features, like facial recognition and internet connectivity.
The only drawback I see with Robotic pets is the price at which it is sold. Even though this technology can help a lot of senior people, a large percentage of these people cannot afford to buy them. One way these robots can be manufactured at an affordable price is, these robots have to become a more household thing in the future. The more people are aware of this technology, and more they use it; it will help the manufacturers to reduce the cost because of mass production. Also, all the Robopets so far are either very expensive or come with minimal functionality and features. So, from a manufacturer’s standpoint, they can aim to strike a balance between the price and the elements.