Recognized by the Guinness World Record organization as the "World's Most Therapeutic Robot," PARO is a lot more than cute, plush, furry, baby harp seal. PARO is one of the world’s most successful attempts at creating a robot companion. Created by Takinora Shibata, Ph.D. and Senior Research Scientist of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), PARO was created to bring comfort and companionship to the sick, aged and the lonely. The role that PARO fills is not very different than the role of therapy dogs, but because PARO is a robot it does not require the level of care that an animal may, which is a benefit to those that are not physically able to care an animal.
The PARO robot companion has been available in Japan since 2005 and around 1000 are currently in use around the globe. Thanks to a new business partnership the therapeutic benefits of PARO will soon be available to hospital patients and nursing home residents here in the US. PARO Robots US inc. will be headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago and headed by Mr. Akiteru Tsuji.
According to a recent press release,
“The first production lot of 300 PAROs for US market will be available in January of 2009 at the list price of US$6,000. The company will start taking orders on December 1, by phone, fax or e-mail.”
“The sales and distribution team in the US, (will) expand the journey of Dr. Shibata's robot therapeutic service, and bring comfort and therapeutic companionship to benefit the US health care community.”