Robo-cats may help seniors stay in their own homes longer

Posted at 8:19 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 20:19:27-05

PROVIDENCE, RI (WJAR/CNN) - It sounds like a cat. It looks like a cat. And now Hasbro is ready to take its robotic animal to the next level. The Pawtucket-based toy company is teaming up with scientists at Brown University to add artificial intelligence to this robo-cat.

It has been on the market for two years and is designed to be a companion for seniors.

“There’s a lot to it if you keep folks socially connected or inter-generationally connected, or happy and fun, that enables that aging in place,” said Ted Fischer, vice president of business development at Hasbro.

“Aging in place” means being able to live at home for as long as possible before having to move to a senior living facility.

The National Science Foundation awarded Hasbro and Brown University at $1 million grant to design a battery-operated cat with artificial intelligence.  The goal is to help older adults perform simple tasks.

Researchers at Brown are working to figure out which tasks the cat would perform. They could range from finding lost objects to reminding the person to go to a doctor’s appointment. Hasbro said the project would help older adults live in their own homes for a longer time.

“I haven’t met too many people are are like, ‘I can’t wait to move into a senior living community,’” Fischer said. “Obviously, everybody wants to age in place and live in their home for as long as they can. There isn’t a lot of people focusing on the joy, happiness, fun and play side of aging, and I think here at Hasbro, that’s what we want to think about every single day.”

Hasbro said it wants to keep the robot cat affordable but acknowledges it’s too early to known how much it will cost.

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