Hasbro’s new Joy For All line of robotic cats could be the perfect companion for the senior citizen who wants more company in his or her life — purring and nuzzling included.
They’re the first in Hasbro’s Companion Pets line, and the mechanical cats join an ever-growing number of robots designed to make ageing more pleasant.
In Japan, for instance, robots have been tasked with keeping older people safe and relieving the burden on human caregivers.
In airports scattered around the country, too, older employees are using robotic exoskeletons to help them lift heavy bags.
Hasbro’s robotic cats are highly lifelike, with far less of that creepy baggage typically found in the uncanny valley. The cats are genuinely adorable (this, coming from a hardline dog person.)
If you touch the cat’s face with the back of your hand, it will nuzzle into you. If you rub its belly, it will flop over and invite you to keep going. Pet the back of its head, and it will purr. Leave it be for a few minutes, and the cat will gently close its eyes for a snooze.
To wake it back up, Hasbro says all you have to do is gently pet along its back.
Hasbro sells the furry companions in three varieties — Orange Tabby Cat, Silver Cat with White Mitts, and Creamy White Cat. Each costs $US99.99.
If the idea feels familiar, maybe you’ve seen Companion Pets’ best robot friend PARO, featured in the new Netflix series “Master of None.”
PARO is a robotic seal, a glassy-eyed white furball that helps people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive disorders find some added daily comfort.
There is a major difference, however, between PARO and Hasbro’s new line in that PARO is a registered medical device that can cost up to $US6,000.
Although both stuffed animals are designed for the elderly, they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Imagine a home where someone has an allergy, where pets are deemed too dirty, or where caring for a pet is simply too much of a financial strain.
Finally, a use for robotics that doesn’t threaten the safety of the world. Just keep an eye out in case your heart melts.
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