Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed

Check out our list of top companies

Check out our carefully compiled lists of the most relevant and impactful companies within their fields.

Check out our list of top unicorns

Read and learn about the biggest companies that various countries have produced, how they made it, and what the future looks like for them.

Combating Loneliness with Robot Pets

Ageless Innovations' robotic companions offer comfort to aging Americans amid increasing isolation
July 1, 2024

In the early 1990s, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology introduced r capturing the world’s attention and symbolizing the potential of robotics in elder care. Decades later, Japan continues to lead in age tech robotics, driven by its aging population, where 29% are 65 or older. The adoption of such technology in the U.S. has been slower, but efforts are underway to change that narrative.

One pioneering initiative is New York State’s Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) program, which has distributed over 31,500 robotic pets to seniors since 2018. Inspired by Acting Director Greg Olsen's daughter's robotic pet, this program aims to tackle the rising epidemic of loneliness among the elderly. Olsen, who noticed the potential of robotic pets when his daughter brought one home, saw an opportunity to bring joy and companionship to older adults across the state.

Manufactured by Ageless Innovations, these lifelike robotic animals come in various forms, including a dog, a cat, and birds. The company, a Hasbro spinoff founded in 2015, developed these pets under the Joy for All brand, catering specifically to the aging population. These robots share technology with Hasbro's FurReal Friends, offering familiarity and ease of use.

The U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has highlighted loneliness as a severe health issue, comparing its impact on lifespan to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This alarming statistic underscores the urgency to address social isolation, which has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research supports the benefits of pet ownership in reducing loneliness, but not all seniors can manage real pets. Robotic pets fill this gap, offering comfort without the demands of live animals.

A 2022 study revealed that robotic pets could alleviate depression and loneliness, providing meaningful interactions during times of social distancing. These robotic companions have shown to be particularly beneficial when human interaction is limited due to health concerns. The same study emphasized that while robotic pets are helpful, human interaction remains crucial for overall well-being.

Beyond robotic pets, NYSOFA has embraced other tech-driven solutions, such as Intuition Robotics' ElliQ, a social robot that helps users stay connected with loved ones and monitors their well-being. This integration of technology aims to create a supportive environment for older adults, enhancing their quality of life.

Stories from NYSOFA clients highlight the profound impact of these robotic companions. One woman declared she would never part with her robotic cat, while another wished to be buried with his robotic pet, causing a playful stir at his funeral when the toy started barking from the casket.

NYSOFA’s robotic pet initiative is part of a broader strategy to utilize technology in supporting older adults. As these programs evolve, they offer a glimpse into a future where technology and empathy converge to address the challenges of an aging population. With the continued success and expansion of such initiatives, the fight against loneliness among the elderly is gaining a valuable ally in robotic companionship.

More about: 

Last related articles

chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram