I've written about 'support dogs' and 'robotic dogs' in the past, but never a robotic canine created primarily for the support of the elderly. Today, I'm happy to research and write about Tombot's proof-of-concept robotic pooch named "Jennie" who was developed specifically for older patients.
The Automated Labrador
The Santa Clarita-based Tombot is the creator of a Labrador puppy who's almost as lovable as the real thing. She sports floppy ears, fluffy golden fur and a tail that can't stop wagging. According to the firm's promo, "without a doubt [she's] the canine [with] all the ingredients to become your best friend."
Jennie is the first prototype for Tombot that has the hyper-realistic appearance and feel of a support dog able to assist the older people's heath adversities, such as dementia and autism
Needs of the Elderly . . .
Older people who face loneliness and isolation can fill that void with a robotic pet. Today 35% of people with dementia say they feel lonely and have lost friends, based on a report by the Alzheimer’s Society.
According to a UCLA Health report, research has shown that using animal-assisted therapy on older adults with dementia has significantly decreased agitated behaviors while increasing social interaction.
To Market. . .
Tombot is manufacturing puppies for use in the short-term. People can already pre-order their Labrador, which CEO Tom Stevens said will come in different shades.
The robotic animal has already been pre-ordered for parents and grandparents by their children. In the majority of cases, these gifts were presented to relatives afflicted by autism and other special needs, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and anxiety, as well as hospitals.
The 20-inch long and five-pound prototype [which can be recharged similarly to a smartphone,] is covered with sensors, consisting of 16 motors, seven of which are placed in the neck area to help the robot move realistically.
“She can feel where and how she’s being touched,” said Stevens. “She can tell the difference between a simple touch, a slow caress, a vigorous petting and being held. She responds to voice commands, but only with her name. She can feel herself being moved if we change her position," said Stevens.
As the company moves forward, different breeds and even cats could be introduced. Time will tell.
Readers, would you consider purchasing a robotic pet for yourself or loved one?
Primary Source: The Signal