A Japanese researcher has created a robot that is designed to treat depression in seniors with dementia
. Masayoshi Kano's Babyloid, which was inspired by the looks of a baby beluga whale, measuers 17 inches long and weighs about five pounds. It can move its stubby arms, round head, thin mouth and beady eyes while making baby noises. The bot's faces features LEDs that help to mimic human expressions, while a microphone and several sensors detect when a person is nearby. The idea is that simulating childcare using the Babyloid will reduce depression and keep minds sharp. Kano, who recently spoke at the Artifical Intelligence Research Promotion Foundation, has tested Babyloid with five residents at an intensive-care nursing home. The outcome must have been positive, because, although it's just a prototype now, Babyloid will retail soon in Japan for about $600.
The prototype Babyloid almost makes our skin crawl, as most robotic babies do
. But, if taking care of this pill-shaped, blank-faced bot baby really makes older folks happier, well, we don't have a problem with it. Just keep it far, far away from us.