‘You’re A Good Dog’: Robo-Pup Helps The Lonely Living With Dementia
Jennie the robotic dog is the latest technology development that is set to change the lives of our most vulnerable – lonely seniors and people suffering from dementia.
The robotic dog is fitted with sensors and voice control to interact with people, while her behaviour is customisable through a phone app – meaning Jennie can suit the individual needs of each patient.
Jennie is currently being used as part of live animal therapy for people living with dementia, who usually suffer from loneliness because of the nature of the illness – including memory loss, difficulties regulating emotion and an overall mental decline.
‘Live animal therapy helps soothe the behaviour and psychological symptoms (of living with dementia),’ CEO of Tombot, Tom Stevens, told BBC.
‘With the robot animals, it’s important to introduce them early in the disease progression so that they have the cognitive to form that attachment. So when they’re in a later stage in their dementia progression, the animal is already something that they turn to for comfort.’
The devastating illness can also take a heavy toll on friends and family of the sufferer, mostly due to their memory loss which is often described as devastating to witness.
It’s why Jennie is poised to be a suitable companion for victims, who will benefit from the calm, around-the-clock and personalised companionship from the dog.
With the ability to bark, wag her tail, open and close her mouth, move her head and eyes, Jennie has been specifically developed to interact with lonely elders and dementia patients in ways that replicate a real dog – and it’s working well.
Elders seen interacting with Jennie in BBC’s report describe her as a ‘good girl’ and ‘awesome,’ while others can be seen laughing in joy throughout their interactions.
Other benefits of Jennie is that she requires much less care and maintenance as a real dog, which dementia patients would not be able to provide.
Other breeds of dogs and cats are currently in development, while Jennie can be purchased through the official TomBot website for US $399.