The Japanese kick our ‘tocks again—this time in the field of rehab

Could it really be true that cute things help people, People!?Check out “Paro” the “Seal Type Mental Commit Robot” (Nice Engrish.) The animal was developed with three goals in mind; first, to encourage psychological improvements such as relaxation and motivation, physiological improvements such as vital signs, and positive social effects like encouraging communication.[Seal flippers clapping]Kouka_01Kinou_01Domo Arigato, Dewi R.!



  1. WHA?!

  2. SO CUTE!!! i want one!!!!

  3. oh….cute:)

  4. gloom raider says:

    I’d read about these but hadn’t seen one…and now I think my brain just melted from the cute!

  5. Oh noes! Robotic thingies that look like they are alive and yet are not alive give me the willies!

    But he is cute!

    All the same, if I were ill I’d prefer a newfie or a pony.

  6. Pony and newfie are myth:)

  7. There is a wrongness about the eyelashes that reduces the qte factor for me.

  8. I like the eyelashes. I think the little old ladies are really cute, too! They look delighted with that little thing.

  9. Fable, do I know you? 🙂

  10. yes.yes. i am trying to escape and become Sophia and then Fable again….that will be a mighty trick:)but that does not mean anything at all…remember this…this does not mean anything at all.

  11. !!! I was actually going to send in a link for the picture and article when I saw it yesterday!

    … and then my internet crashed. >.<


  12. Ok. Now I’ve been pwned by a robot!

    There should be an award for the Cutest Interactive Robot. Hey… it’s far cuter than that little Furby monster!

    I’ve seen videos of this robocritter interacting with elderly patients. It’s the neatest thing to see… Just do a search. Too bad the robot seal is so darn expensive. I’d buy it!

  13. Oh jeez… x2…
    Arvay, do I know you? ;P

  14. those ladies sure do seem to be enjoying it. i loved it when they brought a schnauzer in my room after my knee replacement. i hope we don’t abandon the live for the robotic, but it is a good idea where pets are not permitted.

    and my puter took a dump yesterday too. seems i have lost everything unless i can find some money.

  15. Nope. Not at all, Teho my dear boy. 🙂

  16. ~shiver~

    I do not like robotic cute.

    That guy gives me the creepers.

  17. I’d buy one because supertoys last all summer. :p


  18. I have to admit that I think the ladies are very cute, but that the seal robot is, well, creepy.

  19. Susan Bridges McKay says:

    This is sad, not cute. Fake machines to babysit the lonely elderly? This cannot replace good old-fashioned human interactive care. I will now review earlier postings to replace sad feelings with cute ones!

  20. These are cute, though the eyelashes could go.

    I could use one of these. Been trying ‘cute pics of kitten therapy’, but it’s not working. Maybe baby robo seal would.

  21. These things are very cute. They’re fun to play with too. I can see how they’d be therapeutic in the same way animal therapy is helpful. They had some at Wired’s Next Fest earlier this year. They’re a bit on the heavy side. They’re also VERY VERY expensive… I have the flyer for them somewhere. But there somewhere from $2k-5k each as I recall. I certainly understand why. They’re fairly complex and made independently in limited production numbers – so it’s what I’d expect. But certainly very pricey.

  22. if you’re going to bring up engrish, i’ve got to mention this:

  23. Irk. Wouldn’t it just be easier and cuter to adopt a homeless dog to cheer up the old people?
    I mean, do people seriously feel comfy and socially satisfied around inanimate objects which pretend to be alive?
    I know I wouldn’t.

  24. wolfwhocriedboy says:

    Okay this thing is cute but I have to agree that there is nothing that beats a real-live pet for therapeutic benefits (not to mention the humans that should be involved in ANY person’s life).

    Alas, the one thing this robo has is an absolute absence of allergens. As cute as this is, I think we need to do more before we need such robots.

    All that being said, if they could produce that lil’ cUt-ehs en-mass, they’d kill the Furby and Fur-real market. I’ve never had the love or patience to put up with that lousy Furby that was given to me (2nd generation). Real kritterz are SO much better, poop, allergens and ALL!!

  25. Eee, I hate robot animals, especially cute ones. Same goes for baby dolls that talk. I just get this image in my head of them acting all happy and cute while being abused or falling off a table or something, and it makes me cry. They just seem so lonely.

  26. ka9q's wife says:

    why not have a few cats or some small dogs for animal interaction. What about day care or nursery school at the old folks place. I think getting young kids together with the older generation gives benefits to both generations. As long as the kids don’t go to my Gramma. She was mean and hated kids.
    Well she hated me and my sisters.

  27. Here’s the REAL cute, from the Paro site. Make sure you watch to the end! D’awwww.

  28. not that any of the complainers will pay attention to this, but here goes.

    this creation is great for hospitals…no allergens(as already mentioned), no need to worry about it biting anyone, and no need to worry about a child hurting it. i honestly can’t wait till i start seeing these around my work(and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we buy at least one for the Children’s wing…since we’re THE premier hospital in the US). i think it’s a wonderful idea, and i hope they come out with other animals as well.

    this was not meant to be mass marketed – it’s meant entirely for a hospital/nursing home setting.

  29. Eee, I hate robot animals, especially cute ones. Same goes for baby dolls that talk. I just get this image in my head of them acting all happy and cute while being abused or falling off a table or something, and it makes me cry. They just seem so lonely.

    Posted by: Sara

    I’m not the only one! I thought I was weird! This is cute and sweet, but it also makes me hurt, for some reason. I never have figured out why. Sorta like the Furbies. I got one and then felt incredibly guilty that I did not interact with it on a regular basis like I was supposed to. So I put it away.

    Jeez, I’m glad I’m not totally out there by myself on this one!

  30. melanie: THANKS for the baby harp seal video! My heart just melted into a puddle of goo. I encourage everyone to watch it. It makes my heart ache to think that anyone could bring themselves to harm something so angel-faced and so utterly helpless.

    It is amazing this little guy/girl and its mama trusted the humans who filmed this to the point of the little baby seal following them! That’s another heart-melter.

  31. Cute as a toy, but yeah–wouldn’t a live dog or cat be better? Hmm.

  32. I agree with falnfenix. Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, it IS wonderful when children, their pets, and old folks interact. But it is not always possible. Also, until the world realizes that animals can play a huge role in keeping people mentally and physically fit, we’re going to see landlords continuing to disallow live animals on their properties. Frankly, if I could afford it, I’d buy one of these for every one of my friends who is dying for a pet but can’t have one due to allergies and/or restrictions in rental housing.

  33. Allergy Girl says:

    As someone who is allergic to practically everything under the sun (and I do mean everything! mold, dust, animal dander, feathers, wool, grass, etc. My doctor said jokingly I should live in a BUBBLE) I would have loved to have played with a toy like this when I was child. I can’t go near any live furry creatures without sneezing, nose clogging & running, watery eyed, breaking out into hives, and eventually getting an asthma attack. It really is terrible for a animal lover like myself. I have to admire from afar. So to all you nay sayers and complainers, find something else to complain about and leave all the cute robotic animals alone!

  34. Just think: allergen and POOP free!

  35. AllergyGirl: My heart goes out to you, really!


  36. AllergyGirl: I hope Santa brings you a Paro next year!


  37. also, if old folks live alone, they probably don’t need any extra responsibilities. or their caretakers don’t need any extra responsibilities.

  38. Awwwwww so sweet!!! I want it!

    And Allergy Girl, you have my sympathies.

  39. I’m in much the same situation, Allergy Girl–and I don’t have much to add to your post other than to say that you did a nice job. I agree that this looks like a toy I would have loved to have had. I’m a huge animal lover too (vegan, in fact) and think it’s great that they’re making things like this for the potentially lonely elderly. Allergies aside, the toy has an additional benefit. When overtaxed rest home workers/hospital staff don’t have the time to groom and clean up after a live animal (and patients don’t have the ability), this guy might be a decent substitute. Weird eyelashes, though, as many people have pointed out. Oh well.

    Also, falnfenix–nice post.

  40. Just watched the clip after waiting for the flight bit, seriously cute. Mind makes a mockery of seal hunt just stand there and a cute pup wonders over for a scratch (well Mom hasn’t any nails) unless they smeared the camera with fish?

  41. I like the eyelashes. It gives a sweeter expression. Probably an aesthetic choice since it’s not the real thing, they’re trying to make the sweet expression of a baby harp seal come through.

    Just my .02.

  42. I played with one of these a couple years ago when I was in Japan. I wanted it so badly afterwards! You could pet it and it would turn it’s head towards you and make a sweet little noise. So cute!

  43. Check out the video from the nursing home. The reactions of the residents are just so heart-warming and genuine. The novelty and cuteness seems to bring people together. And the pic of the little girl in the hospital with her Paro made me realize that, hey, it’s a toy, a sophisticated toy, but still a toy, and it brings delight to both young and old. I like this little thing.

  44. I didnt really think it was cute untill I read up on it. I love it. I think its so brilliant that it give the elderly something to care for. People have been using pet therapy for years but this way no one gets bit or allergies.

  45. TheLoveOfIsis says:

    Okay, so did anyone else check out That has to be the FUNNIEST site I have EVAH seen. I’ve been laughing all friggin’ day.

  46. Diana…..for your friends in rental properties, if they are not allergic, they can get a note from a doctor stating that a pet would be good for whatever reason. my dr. wrote one for me because my cat keeps my blood pressure down and aids in my emotional well being. they allow small pets here, but i didn’t have to put up the deposit or the monthly charge.

  47. Alergy Girl…..i hope in mine i didn’t soung negatory. i think live animals are best when possible, but i can certainly see the use for the robotics in a situation like yours,

  48. When I lived in Japan in high school, there was this sleeping toy cat that would purr and kind of snuggle in when you petted it. I wanted it *so* bad, but it was way out of my poor exchange student price range. is famous among ex-pats over there- we all had tons of things to submit. My favorite picture is one of my friends standing next to a subway train that was out of service for the night, and above them is a digital sign saying, “Deadhead Train.”

  49. Carolina…..thanks for the video. that one little lady sure made sure it was clean.

  50. I hear ya, Carolina. The residents are so sweet. You can really see their progress over time, their energy levels have really risen!

    So sadcute. The creature is not so much a factor here for me as the old ladies…now that is cute. and sad.

  51. Bride_Of_lister says:

    I got to play with one of these at Mesci in Tokyo. They’re really cute- if you put your hand over its nose it scrunches up its nose and if you pet it just right it purrs so much.

    The only probelem is that they’re really heavy. ^^o

  52. I lof teh eyelashes!



  53. jenni joon says:

    My_gawd. How. Do. They. Do. It? I ask you. HOW? How on cre-ATION do the Japanese do this? Do they have no SHAME? I mean, theriously (lol… I love saying that). If I had a dime for every time they simply kicked our tookus’ (plural: tookeye?), I do declare I’d be rich. The cuteness of it. Amazing. 🙂

  54. You know I argued on slashdot that the idea for a petting robot for the elderly was a bit insulting, but that was before I saw the thing.

    It is a CUTE toy. I think I want one!

  55. O.k. I just watched the video interactions on their website. The reactions of the people who encounter this toy is astounding.

    Behold teh power of cute!

  56. chelonianmobile says:

    It is very cute, indeed, but *why* a seal? Why not a dog or cat? Vas is der logic?

    But it *is* very cute.

  57. *why* a seal?

    They explained on their web site. They chose a seal because if they made it look like an animal that people actually have first hand experience with, then it won’t work.

    If you have a toy of a kitten that just sits there and wiggles at bit and makes a few noises it will never fool you because you’ve played with kittens before.

    But it’s much easier to suspend disbelief for a toy that doesn’t look like anything familiar.

  58. guineapiggin9 says:

    that lil seal bebeh is just toooo cute! i totally need to get me one of them! I think that its a really great idea for helping all the people in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

  59. Check out the video with fmr. prime minister Koizumi. he must have done something wrong because it looks like little Paro is crying towards the end! lol…

  60. OMG! I totally snorgle on a stuffed white baby seal plushie every night to sleep good. (Football-shaped baby seal fits perfectly between boobage.) Nice to see that I am not the only one turned onto this stuffed cuteness phenom.

  61. I saw one of these a couple of years ago, and really you would have to be very elderly to find it that much more comforting than a stuffed animal. On the level of dementia.

  62. I found the Engrish description a bit disturbing with its focus on either stroking (good) or beating (bad). And it cries if you touch its whiskers. WTF?

    Still, I want one.

  63. I look forward to the day when Cute Overload needs a “Cute Robots” category.

  64. Its so sad how they think its real 😦

  65. coffeeboss says:

    There is something about this that makes me want to burst into tears. The sweet old ladies talking to Paro, and wiping off his face to clean him… I can barely take it! 😦