20 Feb 2016

Robotic seals for therapy and company

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 20 February 2016

A colony of 13 robotic seals is changing people's lives at an Auckland retirement village. The PARO seals have big soulful eyes, white artificial fur and interact with people using a network of sensors that can sense touch, sound, temperature, posture and light.

This Way Up drops into Selwyn Village to see the robotic seals in action.

The 'robopets' were invented in 2003 by the Japanese roboticist Dr Takanori Shibata and are now used as a form of animal or pet therapy in places where having live animals is challenging.

"You can have a retirement home with 100 people. Do you really think that those 100 people will actually get quality time during the day? No. So we have a lot of loneliness, a lot of helplessness, a lot of boredom, so bringing technology that is actually going to be helping us to help our people, it's amazing" - Orquidea Mortera, Diversional Therapist at Selwyn Village.