Covered in soft white fur, PARO is a Japanese care robot. It responds to touch, light, temperature and speech sounds. PARO made its debut more than a decade ago, and although the majority of the 4,000 sold remain in Japan, PAROs can now be found in more than 30 other countries.
Journalist Geoff Watts has been contemplating old age in the care of robots. He met PARO at the London offices of the Japan Foundation, accompanied its inventor, Takanori Shibata, an engineer at the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Shibata categorises PARO’s benefits under three headings: psychological (it relieves depression, anxiety and loneliness), physiological (it reduces stress and helps to motivate people undergoing rehabilitation) and social.
Read more about PARO and Geoff's meetings with other social care robots: mosaicscience.com/story/robot-carers
Camera: Ellie Pinney
Editor: Barry J Gibb