Vinson Hall's elderly residents are all fawning over the retirement home's cuddliest addition: Paro, a fur-covered robot designed to snuggle, bat its eyelashes, waggle its tail and be generally adorable. Paro is far less threatening than real animals and, as many of the residents suffer from dementia, there is no danger of the robot being harmed from neglect. Its inventor, Takanori Shibata of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, brought his creation to America and showed it off at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, where Heather Whyte, director of Vinson Hall, fell in love with the 'bot.
And so have the residents. "You know what he does? He talks to me sometimes," Mary Sherrill Durham, 80, told the Washington Post. The Post reported a snippet of her conversation with Paro, which went as follows:
Durham: "Oh, no, that's not right."
"You shouldn't have said that."
"We'll make up."
Since acquiring its first Paro in March, Vinson Hall now has five of the cuddly little guys. Whoop!