Research into the therapeutic uses of android companions indicates that PARO (a robotic harp seal) can help to reduce anxiety and distress among people with mild to late-stage dementia. Emotional robots – somewhat similar to pets – appear to have a generally positive impact on mental wellbeing.
“PARO is equipped with artificial intelligence software and tactile sensors that enable it to respond to touch and sound in addition to showing emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger”.
Robot seals give dementia patients hope. London: Age UK, June 2013. (Online).
Note: The latest issue of the journal “GeroPsych: Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry” is devoted to exploring the evidence, and the ethical implications, concerning the potential uses of emotional automata.
Broad Context (TED Talks)
Readers may also be interested in a recent Ted Talk video: Rodney Brooks: Why we will rely on robots.
Rodney Brooks (2013). Why we will rely on robots. [Online]: Ted Talks, June 28th 2013.
[A brief reference to this item features in Dementia and Elderly Care: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWNHST), Volume 3 Issue 9, August 2013].
Possibly of further interest:
Hudson, A. (2013). ‘A robot is my friend’: Can machines care for elderly? London: BBC Technology News, November 16th 2013.
September 2015 Update
Possibly of related interest, from the BBC News “Intelligent Machines” series:
Pym, H. (2015). Is this cuddly robot coming to a care home near you? London: BBC Health News, September 17th 2015.