‘Healing Robots’ Provide Artificial Friendship, Monitoring For Elderly Patients During Pandemic

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Patrick Hauf Contributor
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Robot sales are rising in Japan which experts are attributing to the COVID-19 pandemic, a news report shows. 

More Japanese residents are using “healing robots” to comfort those in isolation, The Japan Times reported Tuesday. Robots such as Groove X Inc.’s Lovot and Sony Corp.’s Aibo can track the health of owners, which has led some to use it to check in on senior citizens who are isolated to avoid the spread of the virus, the outlet reported. These robots, along with others, are also being used to comfort those who are struggling with loneliness, including children. (RELATED: CDC Says People With COVID-19 Can Break Quarantine To Vote)

“When people feel uneasy or lonely, they tend to yearn for a sense of physical touch,” Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University, said. “Through healing robots, they must be trying to confirm the actual existence of others, which is hard to really feel on the telephone or through videoconferencing.”

Qoobo, which sells a pillow-like robot of its own, said it sold nearly three times the robots it did in September compared to the previous year, The Japan Times reported. A major department store in Nagoya cited sales showing these sorts of robots selling 15 times more in September than in March, the outlet added. (RELATED: 13-Year-Old Dies From COVID-19 Complications In Missouri)

These robots, despite being relatively small in size, have high-tech capabilities such as moving while avoiding obstacles, facial recognition, the ability to make eye contact and react to physical contact. 

Japan’s COVID-19 cases have remained relatively steady in the past month, ranging from 400 cases to 750 daily cases. Its daily cases peaked in August at just under 2,000, with the total cases being roughly 100,000.