Mamoru, Japan's helpful little assistant for the eldery

Mamoru is a pint-sized elder-care robot created by the University of Tokyo that even looks like a diminutive granny, what with that cute little plastic bun. It's not designed to nag, however. Instead, it helps the elderly or disabled remember where they left their remote control or their slippers, and even offers polite reminders when it's time to take some medicine. To recognize objects, Mamoru uses a wide-angle camera to keep track of the room, and image recognition software to tell what each object is.

"But DVICE," you cry, "we can't just leave our grandparents with robots. It sounds horrible and impersonal!" True, a robot is (currently) no substitute for the tender support a caregiver provides, but the ratio of caregivers to those in need isn't even close to 1:1. Personifying a robotic companion that is as helpful as it is charming — not to mention that it's able to provide support 24/7 — is a great way to augment elder-care without scaring the crap out of them. All in all, it's a field where robots are really showing promise.

Robot Watch, via Loving the Machine