It can be a lonely world for senior citizens. Certainly, they could pass the day spending time with a pet, but pets take so much time to care for – to let them outside, feed them, etc. – but pets can still add vitality to life. Tombot is trying to help that with the development of a robo-dog that looks extremely lifelike, especially in the way it interacts as it’s being petted. And it doesn’t need to be let outside or fed.
The Tombot robotic dog was created along with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, and once you learn that, you realize why it looks so amazingly lifelike.
They’ve had robotic dogs before, but they’re usually not this lifelike. The robotic dogs we have seen in the past are not something you want to cuddle with in bed at night or pet while you’re watching your favorite TV program.
Henson’s Creative Supervisor Peter Brook and Animatronic Supervisor John Criswell added their talents to the creation of the Tombot Robo-Dog. They had to stretch outside their usual boundaries, as the animatronics they are usually behind are designed to do just a few movements and are part of a programmed performance. Robo-Dog isn’t a performance, and it needs to interact.
Tombot is currently raising money on Kickstarter to get this project fully off the ground.
Robo-dog’s Huge Price Tag
But everything isn’t all that cuddly. Tombot is planning on a retail price of $500 for the Robo-dog. But while that sounds expensive, Sony has a competing Robo-dog, Albo, and that carries a price tag of $2,900. They are nowhere near as cuddly, but Albo carries more features and is more mobile.
Elli-Q developed a humanoid robot companion for seniors that works in conjunction with mobile devices and voice commands. But that is more expensive as well at $1,500.
The question becomes whether the senior is looking for something to cuddle or if they are looking for something to relate to, to where the larger price tags make more sense. But at a certain point, you have to also realize that these are all just robots, and while they can interact or even be soft enough to pet, they still lack the warmth of another being.
Would you get a Tombot Robo-dog for a senior that you are helping care for? Would you get one for yourself, whether or not you’re a senior? Let us know how you feel about this in the comments below.
Image Credit: Introducing Tombot on YouTube