A study by Saint Louis University found that a lovable pooch named Sparky and a robotic dog, AIBO, were about equally effective at relieving the loneliness of nursing home residents and fostering attachments. …
Most of the elderly used Sparky, a 9-year-old, reddish-brown mutt with a white muzzle and floppy ears, as a confidant, telling him "their life story," [according to investigator] Marian Banks. …
"He listened attentively, wagged his tail, and allowed them to pet him," said Banks, who adopted and trained Sparky after finding him in an alley behind her home seven years ago.
Those who visited with AIBO took a little longer – about a week – to warm up to the metallic creature. Over time, they grew more comfortable with AIBO, and petted and talked to him. He responded by wagging his tail, vocalizing and blinking his lights.
"AIBO is charismatic if you start to interact with him," said the study's author, Dr. William Banks, a professor of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University. "He's an engaging sort of guy." …
Sara Kiesler, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University who was not involved in the study, said the results of the study are encouraging but not completely convincing.
The problem is inferring it was the robotic dog that reduced the loneliness, and not the human who brought him into the room, she said. She said another study could compare a visit from AIBO with someone stopping by with a stuffed animal or even just a candy bar.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Robot and dogs equally cut loneliness in elderly
From The Dallas Morning News | News