It has been scientifically established that pet-owners enjoy a range of health and other benefits as a result of owning pets, benefits like companionship, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, as well as increased opportunities for exercising and socializing. While the jury is still out on this one, the initial research seems to suggest that robot pets can offer these same benefits.
What are robot pets
Robot pets are artificially intelligent machines, designed in the form of animals, commonly used as pets. There are many robot pets in circulation, including birds, cats, and dogs. Robot pets can also simulate animals not traditionally regarded as pets, such as Drex, a robot dinosaur. People have been known to treat robot pets like actual pets.
Robot pets and the elderly
Robot pets have been used to make the lives of the elderly better, preventing them from getting depressed and keeping them active. According to the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, robot pets can offer the elderly benefits similar to those provided by actual, living pets, in this case, the robot pet being Paro, a seal. The research was conducted by New Zealand’s University of Auckland and published in 2013.
To conduct the study, the residents of a retirement home were divided into two groups, one group assigned to socialize with Paro, the other group sent in trips throughout the city to perform various activities. This went on for 12 weeks.
At the beginning of the study, and then at the end of it, the participants completed tests designed to measure their quality of life, depression, and loneliness. When the results were compared, it was discovered that the Paro group scored lower on loneliness (they were less lonely) than the control group. The residents in the Paro group were also found to have been more conversant with each other than the group performing the activities.
Sony redesigned its robot pet dog, Aibo, programming it to create emotional connections with its owners. It comes with artificial intelligence as well as facial recognition technology and is capable of developing its own personality over a period of time. The robot pet can keep a log of its experiences, download new tricks from the cloud, and take photographs using its camera.
In its previous iteration, Aibo had a robotic looking face. It has been upgraded to a muzzle that looks a lot more realistic. It also comes with two sparkling OLED eyes. It uses its tail, ears, face, voice and body movements to express itself. Not only is the design better, but the motion of Aibo is smoother as well, the robotic movements of the previous model a thing of the past.
The future of robot pets
The advances in robot pet technology are not showing any signs of slowing down. Far from it; they’re only getting better and better. Robot pets may go on to become highly popular amongst children. They may even raise some ethical issues, blurring the lines between humans and machines.
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