Technology

Babyloid Robot Aims to Combat Depression in the Elderly

This fluffy robot is cuddly and soft, but it is no toy. Babyloid is Japan’s latest therapeutic robot baby, designed to help ease depression among older people by offering them companionship. The eyes blink, it can produce a smile, and those rosy cheeks have LED lights that turn red to let you know when Babyloid is happy and content. It will even shed blue LED tears when it is unhappy. It may seem silly to some, but to older people, this could be a real help. Some of Japan’s older population needs someone or something to care for, while others need to feel useful.

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Babyloid will even cry and if you rock it like a baby, it will fall asleep. They chose this very un-baby-like design so that humans would not be freaked out by a realistic baby face. It is capable of over 100 different sounds. If some of them sound real to you, it’s because Babyloids creator, Masayoshi Kanoh, recorded the sounds of his youngest child when she was an infant in order to make the bot more real.

Real world studies at a retirement home found that users interacted with Babyloid for an average of seven to eight minutes per sitting with a total of 90 minutes per day and they claim that it helped ease symptoms of depression. Right now it’s pretty expensive. This prototype cost about 2 million yen, but the goal is to get it to consumers for 100,000 yen one day. It will be interesting to see how things like this can help the elderly.

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