The blogosphere takes this wacky idea down…
Thirty-eight residents were divided into three groups — one saw Sparky once a week for 30 minutes, another group had similar visits with Aibo, and a control group saw neither.
“The most surprising thing is they worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments,” says William A. Banks, M.D., professor of geriatric medicine at St. Louis University. “For those people who can’t have a living pet but who would like to have a pet, robotics could address the issue of companionship.”
Sorry. But I’m not buying it – either a robot dog, or the research. Either the researchers weren’t real perceptive in watching the interactions, or they chose residents who couldn’t tell the difference.
No way can a mechanical dog – tidy and sterile and convenient as it might be – lead to the same joyful bonding, produce the same therapeutic effects, make an institution feel more homelike, and give its owner the same sense of purpose that a real one does.
And furthermore, to suggest that, possibly, among the elderly, they can is insulting to the elderly – a group I don’t plan to join unless I can bring my dog.