The health benefits of robotic pets

Alexander and Elena Libin from Georgetown University are looking at the possible health benefits of a robotic cat.

They believe the pet could assist people living with coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other ailments.

The robotic cat, first released in 2001 by Omron Corp., is called NeCoRo and is equipped with touch sensors on the body allowing it to automatically respond when stroked or petted.


It also has sound sensors in the ears to recognize its own name. The feline can’t walk, but can wag its tail, detect movement through an optical sensor, stretch its body, and meow, hiss and purr, depending on its “mood” and any environmental stimulation.

The Libins tested the robotic cat with people living with Alzheimer’s disease, sensory disintegration disorder, attention deficit disorder and coronary artery disease. They found that interaction with NeCoRo resulted in greater feelings of interest and enjoyment for these groups.

The robot cat may have medical applications beyond positive feelings, for example, by reminding patients to take medication at a certain time.

Via ABC News.

Another pet robot used in healthcare is Paro, which in 2002 was awarded by the Guinness Book of Records the title of “most therapeutic robot in the world.”

The seal robot, developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, was also tested at nursing homes both in Japan and Sweden, with autistic and handicapped children this time.
Nurses reported that Paro helped relieve patients’ anxiety and improved communication among patients and their caregivers.


Surface tactile sensors beneath its fur and whiskers trigger Paro to move and respond to petting: eyes open and close, flippers move. Just holding and stroking the critter has a calming effect.

Via CNN.