Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Robotic Baby Seal Wins Top Award

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the late-christmas-gift dept.

86

SilentOneNCW writes "The BBC has an article up about everyone's favourite creature — the robotic baby seal. This seal, called Paro, is fitted with sensors beneath its fur and whiskers that allow it to respond to petting. The idea is that by utilizing these sensors and flapping its arms, it can engage in therapy for older patients in nursing homes. It has won a service prize from the Japanese government sponsored Robot Awards 2006. The awards were set up earlier this year by the Japanese government to promote research and development in the robotics industry. Robots are widely used in Japan and are seen as a way to help deal with an aging population, maintaining the labour force and helping care for the elderly."

cancel ×

86 comments

LOL (0, Offtopic)

zptao (979069) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345762)

LOL !!!

I for one welcome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17345766)

I for one welcome our robotic baby seal overlords. And I would just like to let them know that if they need an expert slave driver to make sure people keep petting them, I'm highly qualified.

Since when do robots have rights? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17345770)

they dont damnit

Re:Since when do robots have rights? (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346822)

If they did, would robot baby seals sue their owners for molestation. "Now Fluffy will you tell the court just where Mr. Yamada touched you?"

Re:Since when do robots have rights? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347836)

Why doesn't he remove the chip that makes me feel shame?!

Robotic club (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17345774)

Or do regular clubs work?

Re:Robotic club (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17345996)

This [tshirthell.com] seems appropriate.

Stupid joke... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346092)

...so a baby seal walks into a club.

Re:Stupid joke... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346230)

A string walks into a bar. He sits down and asks the bartender "Can I have a beer?87jSR~3hIj[c&8x,28afi wj28J*)"

"Please excuse my friend," the second string replies, "He isn't null terminated."

Re:Stupid joke... (1)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346302)

Sir, I dearly wish I had mod points for you. That's one of my favorite jokes.

Re:Robotic club (1)

antic (29198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346298)

Unfortunate name if it were to be rolled out in Australia where someone soundly inebriated is said to be "paro" (from 'paralytic').

e.g., "He was paro last night."

Re:Robotic club (3, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346484)

Would you be so flippant with insensitive remarks like that if it was a penguin getting whacked?

You Linux guys are so speciesist.

Terms and Conditions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17347384)

Warranty void if seal is broken.

Re:Robotic club (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17348108)

Jokes aside, I bet most of you have never tasted seal meat. I'm not a big meat eater at all, but it is absolutely DELICIOUS! Better than almost all meat/fish I've had before. It's a pretty dark brown color, so it looks a bit scary at first, but once you taste it... It's one of those desert island foods IMO. The sad part is how hard it is to find a specialized butcher that sells some (closest is a few hours away). One of my friends' dad hunts seal though, so I manage to get some from him sometimes.

Re:Robotic club (1)

CptPicard (680154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17348906)

Well, you COULD possibly interface it with a Wiimote...

Suggestion (4, Funny)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345802)

The idea is that by utilizing these sensors and flapping its arms, it can engage in therapy for older patients in nursing homes.

That's a good start. Now how about a lap dance?

Re:Suggestion (1)

iSeal (854481) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346568)

That's a good start. Now how about a lap dance?
/me does lapdance.

okay, that was my creepy quotient for the day.

About time (4, Funny)

agent dero (680753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345812)

With Japan's growing elderly population, now they can interact with a baby harp seal as per usual.

The other robot in the article I can forsee stabbing stubborn old people in the face with a spoonful of peas, finally we have a viable alternative to passively torturing our old people, the game of "hide the dentures" was getting a bit boring.

Re:About time (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346402)

"as per usual"?

So a significant portion of the Japanese population normally interacts with baby harp seals (or even adult seals)?

No, they are just being used for QA. The real target audience is the Inuit, which can use these robots both for training (in clubbing seals) and to help care for their elderly, before they wander off into the wilderness...

Aren't stereotypes great...

why? (2, Interesting)

Mike610544 (578872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345846)

If there a pet shortage in Japan? Dogs/Cats also respond realistically when you interact with them. I might understand how they favor robots over unskilled immigrants for manual labor, but why subject the elderly to robot baby seals?!?

Re:why? (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345884)

The elderly are more likely to forget vital pet care (feeding, vet, etc.). That's why it's important to automate the pet.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346376)

More importantly, pets make a MESS. This is probably a deal-breaker for the seriously old and almost incapacitated with age.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346866)

1: Feed Robot Seal with Robot Fish
2: Clean up batteries that Robot Seal Craps out

Re:why? (3, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345894)

If there a pet shortage in Japan?

No, these things will mostly be used by the manga/porn industry. They always have problems getting a tight seal.

Re:why? (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346566)

Generally speaking, Manga and porn are not the equivalent - Pornographic Manga is called hentai.


Awesome joke though. Gave me a good laugh.

-Red

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346604)

> No, these things will mostly be used by the manga/porn industry. They always have problems getting a tight seal.

Which reminds me of the time it wouldn't power up. I took it to the shop for repair, and the guy at the counter said I'd blown a seal. I told him to fix the damn thing and leave my private life out of it.

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346358)

If there a pet shortage in Japan? Dogs/Cats also respond realistically when you interact with them.

Anyone that's spent any real time interacting with actual dogs and cats is going to find something like this cold comfort indeed. Perhaps they're thinking of patients in the throws of dementia or something - or just assuming that a lot of elderly Japanese have never actually had a real animal in their lives.

That being said, a lot of elderly patients have comprimised immune systems. And as nice as it is to have a real dog give you a friendly lick on the face, it's worth remembering that, without question, is was recently licking its ass.

Re:why? (2, Informative)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347248)

If there a pet shortage in Japan?

I think it's more to do with not having the space [blogspot.com] for pets.

Cuter then the AIBO (2, Interesting)

topherhenk (998915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345862)

Nothing in the article seems that advanced. We had a spoon feeding robot for yrs in my grad school lab. The Rumba has been out for a while and the seal seems straight forward.
It is interesting to see how different the robotics field is between the US and Japan. The US focuses on UAV's and others for the defense department/DHS or the space program. While the Japanese focus on human robotic interaction and humanoid robots.

Nice idea (2, Funny)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345864)

It's a very nice idea, mainly because baby seals are very cute creatures and because real seals smell really bad.

My girlfriend tells me a story that when she went to Namibia, she went to see a beach where seals were having a sunbath. She had to throw away the clothes she was wearing that day because the smell would not come off.

I can't imagine the bad breath of a whale that eats these things.

Re:Nice idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17350362)

I'm sure your girlfriend has all kinds of wonderful stories about throwing her clothes away on the beaches of Namibia. The question is, do you believe them?

Re:Nice idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17350492)

Oh dear. I smell a new epithet coming: "You code like a monkey, and you have breath like a whale!"

I hope I never grow old (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17345872)

I hope I never grow old.

If they are condescending enough expect to stick me in some hole in the wall and pet a friggen robot doll, I'd tell them where they can shove it.

Well, unless they give me the source and a computer to hack it, then we may be able to talk. Throw in a deadly laser beam to stick on it's head and I just might wet myself.

Re:I hope I never grow old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346176)

Throw in a deadly laser beam to stick on it's head and I just might wet myself.

I think you'll be doing that with or without the deadly laser beam.

Re:I hope I never grow old (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346686)

Maybe by the time you're old, computers will be smarter than the nurses. Then it would be cool.

Re:I hope I never grow old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346838)

Maybe it's better this way... a robot doll won't verbally abuse and manipulate you. The Japanese are used to following orders and doing whats told because usually the punishment is humiliating and disproportionately harsh. Did you know in Japan you are publicly humiliated for mixing up the recyclable trash with burnable trash? This is why in Japan it's so easy to abuse the elderly and is their hidden dirty secret. Many elderly folks are abused and manipulated and even sexual abuse is rampant in retirement homes. Truly sick stuff.

Re:I hope I never grow old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17348074)

Cite, please.

What a cute Seal (0, Offtopic)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345908)

I bet they had to ban all Canucks for fear of them clubbing it.

Aw, cute baby seals (1)

kermit1221 (75994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345918)

What are you?
I'm a robot baby seal! I do cute, people things with my hands!
You're free to go. Next! What are you?
I'm a cow.
Get in the truck.
But I can...
I SAID GET IN THE F-ING TRUCK!

(ya, I changed it a bit)

Join the club (2, Funny)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345932)

It's a decoy for the Canadian seal hunters, or target practice, whichever angle you choose to look at it from.

Re:Join the club (0, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346200)

It's a decoy for the Canadian seal hunters

If one seal in a thousand was boobytrapped then there would be fewer hunters.

Do robotic baby seals... (1)

w3c.org (1039484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345968)

dream of electronic baby fishes ? and when will we get a "So long and thanks for all the ...electronic fish ?"

something other than a seal? (2, Insightful)

rolyatknarf (973068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345978)

"allow it to respond to petting"

Could they maybe make one of those attractive robotic girls that does this? It would make the perfect companion for the average slashdot reader.

Re:something other than a seal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346482)

Hey, when I'm 80-90+++ I think I would still rather have a robotic girl than a seal. I think there's still a little stigma towards "Robotic sex toy, designed for the elderly"

Wisdom from Futurama ;-) (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346506)

Could they maybe make one of those attractive robotic girls that does this? It would make the perfect companion for the average slashdot reader.

Don't Date Robots! [youtube.com]

Obligatory... (0, Redundant)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17345986)

I, for one, welcome our new ultra-cute-robotic-baby-seal overlords.

Low opinion (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346018)

What a low opinion the Japanese have for their elderly, to think that robot seals could be a substitute for genuine affection. If anyone sticks me in a room with crap like this, I'll CLUB them with the robot baby seal the next time they come and visit!

Re:Low opinion (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346066)

Hrmm, i read the article a little differantly..

"Robots are widely used in Japan and are seen as a way to help deal with an aging population."

I forsee robotic seal "wolfpacks" hunting down the elderly with their lasers and vaporizeing them, kinda like running man, lets take a look at "last weeks winners" :P

Re:Low opinion (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346382)

Aren't you being a little judgemental? I don't think the article was making the suggestion that these robotic seals replace genuine affection. There is no replacement for genuine affection. I think the article suggests that this is potentially a therapeutic tool for the elderly. It has a response akin to bio-feedback. That said, the Japanese traditionally show more respect and reverence toward their elders than in the west.

Re:Low opinion (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346622)

Don't listen to the other replies. You're absolutely right. You always hear about Japan's BURDENING elderly population but you hardly hear about this problem from Italy who has the same percentage of elderly people. In Italy they put considerable effort into giving the elderly a better, more graceful life as opposed to Japan, where they simply want to extend your misery and simply give an APPEARANCE of happiness. I really can't respect a country where they treat their elderly as if they're not human. The Japanese by nature are very short sighted people, it's always about appearances and not about the future. Everyone, God willing, will grow old. Treat them how you would want to be treated when the time comes.

Re:Low opinion (1)

Laughing Dog (913885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347716)

If there's one thing people are good at, it's anthropomophizing. Look at how many people extend their pets' emotions, wants, and desires to the entire human range (But the doggie wants to be a mommy! She'll be sad if she can't be a mommy!). For that matter, look at those who start to talk to their cars, computers, and other electronics. This other article [forbes.com] gives more details about how the elderly have interacted with the robotic seal, and mentions some studies conducted with Aibo. It seems that, provided that something gives the appearance of having thoughts and emotions, people will begin to treat it as though it does. I think that's how Bush remained popular for as long as he did.

Re:Low opinion (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17364982)

Well, it may be hard to imagine, but some people actually use animals as a substitute for genuine affection. If that succeeds, I don't see why a robotic thing should fail...

JOIN THE SWAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346036)

Are you Straight?

Are you White?

Are you Straight and White?

Then join the Straight White Association of America, the nation's leading organization for straight whites.

Disclaimer: Not affiliated with the GNAA.

BBC (1)

imageboard (1038004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346048)

Thank the lord the BBC is spending my tax money researching these key issues! What would we do without you?

Re:BBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346830)

The aren't spending your taxes (apart from the BBC World Service).

They are spending your license fee. You don't have to pay if you don't have a TV.

Re:BBC (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347298)

You don't have to pay if you don't have a TV.

You realize how ridiculous that sounds, right?

Re:BBC (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347908)

The GP was wrong anyway, you're allowed to own a TV, just not allowed to have it tuned in. So you can watch DVDs, or play on your console of choice without paying the licence fee.

Tux (1)

Sterling2p (922774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346098)

How about you make a robotic Penguin...and make sure that it can run Linux.

Awww, how cute (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346130)

Just remember folks, robots are our friends [albinoblacksheep.com] . Just watch out for the cute ones.

for added realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346182)

what happens when you hit it with a stick?

Perplexed (3, Insightful)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346274)

Ok, I understand that some people want to pet a stuffed toy and pretend that it's a baby seal. I mean actually do this more than once.

Let's say that this applies to say, 1% of the population.

Ok, now you stick some robotics into your stuffed toy (they would have said "clockwork" a hundred years ago), does that really raise the percentage of people interested in petting the stuffed toy and pretending that it's a real seal?

I mean I like stuffed toys myself, but I can't imagine that putting machinery inside of one makes it better. Since you don't have to pretend that it's moving or anything, I think you're MORE likely to be thinking of it as just an object, in case you'll think of it as a machine rather than as a pillow.

I mean lets face it, the smartest computerized toy is no nearer to being a real seal than an ordinary doll is.

And isn't the whole premise awfully condescending and insulting? If you want to help old people get over loneliness, why are you foisting toys on them rather than say, time with a real human being, or a real pet?

Re:Perplexed IT JUST GOES TO SHOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346396)

it really tells you alot about how Japan treats their elderly.

In America and China we cherish and admire our elderly. When you're old in America you can expect your sons and daughters to look after you. In China they treat their elderly like heroes. In Japan at best you can look forward to a 10 minute hello and goodbye once every year or two because their children don't want to be late for work. You become a burden...

Japan is about appearances.

They think the more happy cute things you surround yourself with the happier you'll LOOK to others but the truth is that it only shows you are trying to compensate for what you completely lack. If I lived in Japan I'd just rather die than spend my last 10 years being fed by a robotic arm, surrounded by cute writhing robots with their soulless blinking eyes.

Re:Perplexed IT JUST GOES TO SHOW (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346640)

I don't think Americans cherish the elderly in general, but perhaps many Americans treat their own parents better than they might, at least in old age. Which is funny, because as children, teenagers and young adults we treat our parents atrociously; worse than the Japanese, I'd guess.

I wonder if anyone who actually grew up in Japan could make a comment on how well or badly the elderly are treated.

Re:Perplexed IT JUST GOES TO SHOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346704)

You can google the words Elderly Abuse Japan and see it is indeed a problem. Another problem is that often the elderly are forced to stay quiet and manipulated by the nurses so you just won't hear about it.

Re:Perplexed (2, Interesting)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346714)

And isn't the whole premise awfully condescending and insulting? If you want to help old people get over loneliness, why are you foisting toys on them rather than say, time with a real human being, or a real pet?
I couldn't agree with you more.

If I saw this product in a different context, I would think it was marketed at children. It's like a Furby but cute or something. I think robots that provide basic healthcare (washing, feeding, providing little cups of medicine) for the elderly are a wonderful idea, but I don't think interaction with another being can be replaced by simulation. When it comes to relationships, people need something real. I know that my cat isn't very intelligent, but how I interact with him actually affects him. It's less about how he reacts and more about how he feels. This is what makes our relationship meaningful. Even though he's just a cat.

Toys are no substitute for pets, and pets are no substitute for people. But the gap between a toy and a pet and the gap between a pet and a human are incomparable.

Re:Perplexed (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347514)

When you understand the sheer number of Elderly people in Japan.. the ageing population problem... you'll see there is no way they feasibly provide around-the-clock care and affection for the elderly. Real pets are too difficult to care for, too large for the average retirement home, and too far too unsanitary for people who's immune system is rapidly growing weak.

The product (the seal) has been created by researchers, not homes and carers. They're not foisting toys on them. They think that the basic biofeedback in a simplified but near-realistic form will have a positive effect on the psyche of these aged men and women. Yes, it is no substitute for real human contact. But it's still cute, and it's still trying. It's only "condescending and insulting" when you offer these things instead of real human contact. As a supplement to their current experience, I feel it could only be positive.

And besides - the most likely goal of this project is to get it mass-manufactured and marketed to all ages. They're just looking for funding via the "look, it's good for people" charity side of things. And should it be mass-manufactured, it'll drop in price and quickly become affordable for retirement homes without destroying their already meagre budgets. In the long term, it works out well if this gets the funding it needs.

Re:Perplexed (1)

Lost Race (681080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17350476)

Do you pretend your car is a horse?

It serves the same purpose more efficiently with lower maintenance requirements. That's why we use machines instead of animals.

Now that I can practice at home .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346320)

It is now possible for friends to go clubbing for fun and profit in the privacy of their home.

Just wait until they have robotic stingrays I can put in the bathtub with my robotic Steve Irwin!

This is a great idea (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346348)

I must say this is a great idea. It is taking relatively older ideas and technology and modernizing them. There is a lot to be said for the neural stimulation one recieves from the simple act of caring for something. It has been shown that stuffed animals help a child to learn and cope with difficulty. Using Bio-Feedback, one can see the stimulation this provides. Taking robotics and applying it to the stuffed animal is wonderful. The sounds of satiation that the harp seal stuffed animal provides works to relax the body and mind. This may be a lot easier than caring for a live animal; especially for someone elderly and with more limited ranges of motion. I volunteered in a nursing home wherein we used cats to provide the pet therapy. Somewhere along the line I remember hearing a neurologist claim that the sound of the purring of a cat provides relaxation. Additionally, the gentle, tactile vibrations that come from the purring trigger a response shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. I would really like to see continued development of this harp seal robot. I think it may have great potential for health and elder care.

Re:This is a great idea (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346674)

I see.

So it may work better than it sounds.

Still, I can't help thinking of the pet robot dog in "Sleeper". Can anyone remember its lines?

That's a fine way to treat the aged (2, Funny)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346378)

I have this image in my mind.

Nurse: "Mr. Yamoto, it's time for your therapy"

      The adorable robot seal flops into the room.

Patient: "No. Please no. For the love of god, don't put me in a room with that thing!"

Nurse: "Oh don't be a baby Mr. Yamoto, it's for your own good."

      The robot looks at the patient and its eyes start to glow red.

Patient: "Anything but the robot seal! Anything! I'm begging you, please no!"

Nurse: "There's nothing to be afraid of. The seal just wants to be petted and help you"

      The robot turns to the nurse and gives him an adorable, innocent expression.

Nurse: "See? Its harmless. The seal couldn't hurt a flea!"

      The robot turns back to the patient and opens its mouth, revealing razor sharp steel teeth and a small amount of blood draining from the corner of its mouth.

      The nurse shuts the patient in a small room with the seal. There's the sound of loud screaming for the next ten minutes, followed by silence.

Nurse (as he drags the patient's bloody corpse from the room): "Ahh, this new robot is great! Takes care of the fussy old folks like nobody's business!"

I don't get it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346418)

Sorry if I missed the point but: where's the technical prowess here?

How I see things (maybe in a too simplistic way) is:
if( sensorActive == true )
{
    flapArms();
    blinkEyes();
}

With a bunch of captors under the fur and voila.
What's the deal with it?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347378)

You mean it's just a seal shaped furby ?

What, nobody? (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346684)

Robot seals.......overlords....come on, this story obviously needs such a post.

Message to the Japanese government (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346762)

Don't blow a seal.

Seal overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346948)

I for once, welcome our robotic seal overlords!

Robotic baby!! (1)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347098)

good...call me when you have robotic babe.

I sincerely hope... (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347304)

...that when I'm old enough to need this kind of care, nobody attempts to give me a robotic seal to pet. Fortunately for the people creating these robotic seals, the old people they are trying to give the seals to, are probably not a physical threat anymore. But if I were one of them, I think I would have tried to land a shot anyway...

Image caption (1)

Elentari (1037226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347904)

"Robots are looked on as a solution to Japan's ageing population" I don't really see how small, robotic seals are meant to prevent people from getting older, unless they "dispose" of the elderly somehow.

Sega getting in on the act... (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17348056)

The ultimate Bond Villain accessory toy.

http://www.segatoys.co.jp/yumeneko/index.html

Whatever you do don't pull its tail.

They studied the health benefits of petting (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17349326)

but how about the benefits of petting the nursing staff? I'll bet a study would show some benefit to that.

Don't go there, Taco... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17349840)

Don't even THINK about next April Fool's Day.

Save the seals.... (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17350250)

for dinner.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Had to get it out of my system.

Now, on a more serious note. Essentially this is a toy. No one needs me to point out that robot toys have been, and remain, really popular. Kids interact with them tirelessly. Adults like toys, too, of course. "Daaaad, it's s'pose to be MY train set."

So, like all people, old folks like toys, too. My Mom is 90. She is independent. She still works as an artist. And she takes pretty good care of herself. She absorbs more news than I do and could out-talk Diane Rehm on politics. She also likes to play with a few dolls she has on her mantle. She'll rearrange them and talk to them just like an eight year old girl. She's not out of it. She knows she's pretending (just like an eight year old would if you asked) but she enjoys the imaginary play. I mean, we all do in some way or another.

So I think a really quality soft toy capable of dynamic interaction would be fun from time to time. I mean a Dance Dance Revolution console is probably out for my mom, but a responsive interactive toy with a few surprises and unlocks in store? Maybe an old song, or a poem? Why not? She might enjoy it while she's waiting for the C-Span book review to come on. Or while she waiting for my cousin to come over so she can whip him in scabble...again

Given a little privacy no one is above playing with a cool toy.

Canadian Version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17350752)

Comes with a cartridge of blood and a baseball bat and a T-shirt that says "The twitching and crying is just a death reflex"

You too can be as happy as a Candian on an ice floe with a baseball bat

I've tried one, they're cool (and I did club one) (1)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17352226)

Well, I didn't quite club one, but I do have pictures of me laughingly pretending that's what I was doing. I suspect I'm going to regret that.

The real story was that I met the inventor at a public exhibition of the seals, and before he was introduced to the audience I saw a couple of the seals with a large wooden mallet lying next to them. My first thought was "Oh dear God, no. Tell me he's not going to...."

Of course, bad taste and poor judgement (entirely on my part) took over from there. :-)

The inventor was very good-natured about the whole thing, and seems to be quite a nice guy.

If I ever run for President, I guess I'm dead meat. ( Though if I ever run for President of Canadia, this and an endorsement from Don Cherry and I'm in! )
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...