A Danish director is making a documentary on Japan’s therapeutic Paro robot, which looks like a baby harp seal, to show how “the world’s most soothing robot” helps patients.
Last month, director Phie Ambo recorded elderly patients suffering Alzheimer’s and mental disorders interacting with Paro at a nursing home in Milan, Italy, said Takanori Shibata of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The institute, in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, developed Paro, which was cited at the world’s most soothing robot in Guinness World Records in 2002.
Paro was developed by the institute for use in treating patients with various illnesses and has been used experimentally since 2000 at facilities for the elderly, children’s hospitals and households in Japan and other countries, including Sweden, France and the United States.
Ambo and Shibata will hold a news conference to discuss the film on May 30 in Copenhagen at a meeting of the International Federation on Aging, an international advocacy group working to promote the rights of the elderly, the researcher said.
The documentary “Mechanical Love” is sponsored by a Danish movie company. Ambo will visit Japan in June and August to film the robots being built and show how they are used, Shibata said.
The 57-cm, 2.7-kg furry seal can mimic emotions and reacts to people by cooing, moving and opening and closing its eyes. It looks happy when patted and upset when ignored.
Experiments have demonstrated the robot reduces patients’ stress levels, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and stimulates their immune systems, according to the institute.
More than 600 Paro robots have been sold to individuals, hospitals and welfare facilities in Japan. They cost 350,000 yen to 420,000 yen depending on the length of the warranty, Shibata said.