From Toledo to the Far East: Robots caring for senior citizens in Japan

From Toledo to the Far East: Robots caring for senior citizens in Japan
Paro the Seal (Source: WTOL)
Paro the Seal (Source: WTOL)

Tokyo, Japan (WTOL) - Senior citizens sing, clap, and follow their leader.

Not just the nursing home caregiver, but the humanoid robot Pepper made by SoftBank Robotics Corporation.

The corporation is part of a Japanese global technology company that announced it is investing $50 billion in the U.S. at Trump Tower in December.

I was able to see Pepper turn up its charm and connect with seniors at the Do Life Shinagawa nursing home run by social welfare corporation Silver Wing.

Through a special government gr ant, this facility in Tokyo is testing technology made by companies like Honda.

This technology is aimed at helping Japan deal with its rapidly aging population.

It's the fastest aging population in the world with estimates that in the next twenty years, 30% of Japanese will be over the age of 75.

Enter innovation: beds that can turn into wheelchairs, mechanized harnesses that can help the shortage of caregivers life the weight of a senior.

Then there's Paro, the stuffed animal seal invented by research scientists at Tsukuba's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Paro provides comfort and even companionship to lonely or sick seniors and dementia patients.

Robotics is important enough that a key governmental department, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is funding several experimental programs.

Opponents raise privacy and ethics concerns with this new technology.

But with the statistics representing an exploding aging population as a daunting demographic, economic, and social challenge, Japan shows no sign of slowing down as it pioneers a necessary and compassionate solution.

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