Technology Tuesday December 12, 2017

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LUBBOCK, TX — – Robots for Seniors Citizens

Hasbro and a team of researchers from Brown University are partnering up to develop an intelligent, robotic companion for senior citizens. These robot pets could be a big help for those dealing with health problems.

The original Hasbro animatronic Furby from the 90’s paved the way for these pets. The ‘Joy for All’ cats and dogs are geared toward seniors.

Hasbro’s Ted Fischer says their prototype testing room is normally reserved for kids but not this time.

“We brought a group of seniors into our fun lab. It was about 30 walkers and wheelchairs so it was a very different audience and it was much fun if not more fun to have this group of folks in there,” Ted Fischer, VP of Business Development, Hasbro, said.

Thanks to a one million dollar National Science Foundation Grant, Brown is teaming up with Hasbro to turn these cuddly toys into highly advanced pieces of artifical intelligence.

“Our idea was, we can bring expertise for the artificial intelligence, for the mechanics and the human robot interaction side, and they are one of the best companies to build at a very small scale and an affordable scale, something that can really be distributed to a lot of people,” says Bertram Malle, Professor at Brown University.

Fischer adds that Hasbro are neophytes in the space of aging and seniors but Brown and Brown Medical have an incredible geriatric department on those types of things.

The project is called Aries Professor Malle says the cat or dog would contain a tiny processor and sensors for sight, sound and touch not only to interact with their user but to log information and help seniors with mild dementia remember what they otherwise might forget.

Brown hopes to have a working prototype by next summer and if everything goes well Hasbro could have these pets on store shelves within three years.

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