Space & Innovation

Baby-Like Robot Is a Companion for Elderly at Risk of Depression

The Babyloid wants to be comforted and that can make others feel needed.

For people at risk of depression, loneliness can play a role. That's why one man created the Babyloid, a baby-like robot that is designed to be a companion for the elderly. If the robot doesn't look quite human, that's because it's not supposed to. The robot's designer, Masayoshi Kanoh of Japan's Chukyo University in Aichi, said he went with the simple, Teletubby-ish face "to avoid the creepiness a realistic baby face can have," according to New Scientist.

The Babyloid makes more than 100 sounds, for which Kanoh recorded his infant daughter. It has LED lights that can indicate tears or happily rose cheeks, and eyelids that open and close. Interior sensors respond to touch and rocking motions, giving the robot's caretaker the job of keeping it happy and getting it to sleep.

It's unclear so far how much of an impact the Babyloid's use has on preventing depression, but early tests show that retirement home residents respond well to it.

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