« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2019, 01:52:59 PM »
I actually spent a year working with Paro at a research lab and now own a Paro myself (I didn’t pay anywhere remotely near retail, thankfully). I think Paro is a very interesting innovation and enjoy mine, but I do think Hasbro’s Joy for All has many of the same effects at a much lower cost. I am currently pursuing social robotics (with a focus on therapy robots) as a career path, so I am very interested in tracking any new developments in the field.
Referring to what the robot does may have been the wrong wording, but I would like to see a bit more of Tombot before backing it. The dev team has announced that they’ll be hosting a Webinar today that will show their current prototype operating in real time, which is exactly the sort of news that I was hoping for. I think companies often portray one side of a product in commercials, but robots are often over-hyped early on in development and the final product does not compare to the company’s promises, so I am very interested to get a better idea of the stage that this robot is at. Here’s a link to the Webinar if anyone here is interested in watching. There is one starting in just an hour and another on Tuesday.
I have also done volunteer work with Pleo at a nursing home and have had mixed results similar to you. Some residents loved meeting Buddy the Pleo and couldn’t wait for his visit each week, while others were genuinely afraid of or even aggressive toward him. I would love to work with Aibo in a similar setting since Aibo is what made me fall in love with social robotics, but Aibo is not “cuddly,” which is a huge drawback for its use in therapy. I think Tombot is cute personally, but given the mixed responses to Pleo, I am worried that residents might be even more divided over it since it is made to look so much like a dog, but is fundamentally different from a real dog. I know that early in development, Paro’s creator considered making Paro a cat instead of a seal, but the responses he received to the cat were much more negative because people compared it to a real cat and saw where it fell short in comparison, while most people did not make comparisons about the seal since many had never even seen a real seal in person.