Paro is an animal-like robot that has been in use in Japan and Europe since 2003 for therapeutic purposes—for example, providing care to people with Alzheimer’s disease. Modeled on a baby seal, Paro registers environmental stimuli via two computers and five sensors that measure touch, light, sound, temperature and physical position. This enables it to interact with its human interlocutor. Paro is able to learn—it can recognize 50 different voices and responds to its name. The form of a baby seal was selected because most people have no preconceptions about how this creature behaves.

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credit: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST),