The Paro robot is a therapeutic robot that is modeled after a baby harp seal. The Guinness World Record officially recognized Paro as the world’s most therapeutic robot. It is available in white, pink, grey or gold colors.
Paro was developed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. It also appeared in a documentary called “Mechanical Love” which was produced by Phie Ambo. Paro is designed to be very cute and interactive to induce a calming effect on hospital patients and nursing home residents. It is helpful for patients suffering from depression, anxiety and even dementia.
Paro is not just a typical stuff animal. When petted, Paro can move its tail and open and close its eyes. It also makes the sounds that a baby seal would make. It has sensors which respond to light, temperature, tactile, audition and posture. It elicits emotional responses and remembers interactions which allow it to develop its personality over time depending on how it is treated. Paro can also recognize the direction of voice and words with its audio sensor. Paro is designed to sleep at night and to be active in the day, which is likely so to encourage good sleeping habits in patients. It is rechargeable using a charger that looks like a pacifier.
One might wonder if real animals are better instead. Paro is used in therapeutic healing similar to animal therapy minus the special attention required to look after real pets. Besides that, some elderly people may not want to have pets as the pets would outlive them and there may be no one to take care of the pets after that. The elderly also do not want to trouble others with the burden of taking care of a pet after they pass away.
Paro could even be an option for non-patients who love pets but are not willing to commit to one. You will not have to experience the heartache of losing your pets due to deaths too. Paro is also a good alternative for people who are allergic to pets.