There was a time when it was highly unlikely for a baby seal to be taking up residence at a retirement community in the Midwest. As technology advances, that time has arrived.
At Santa Marta, a seal is making waves for residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This seal, however is a PARO – an advanced interactive robot that looks, sounds and feels like the real thing. PARO, the 8th generation of this design, has been used throughout Europe since 2003. The automated seal allows the benefits of animal therapy to be administered to patients in environments such as hospitals and extended care facilities, where live animals present treatment or logistical difficulties. Research has shown that pets, including robotic animals, can improve the psychological health of older adults living with dementia.
Our PARO has five kinds of sensors: tacticle, light, audition, temperature and posture sensors, which allow her to perceive people and surrounding environment. She can sense light and dark, when she’s being stroked, and what posture is best fit for being held. She can also recognize the direction of voice and words such as name, greetings, and praise.
In the short time since she joined the community, she’s become part of the Santa Marta family. Residents love spending time with her, and simply petting or participating in activities with her is a source of joy for many. This comes as no surprise to the Santa Marta team. Watch the video below for KMBC’s coverage of Santa Marta’s very own PARO, Benny.