Paro is a therapeutic robot. It’s a baby harp seal , intended to have a calming effect and elicit emotional responses to patients in hospitals and nursing homes . The use is similar to therapy with the help of animals, but without the negative aspects. Paro is designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in early 1993. It was first demonstrated to the public at the end of 2001 and became Best of COMDEX Finalist in 2003. Handmade versions sold since 2004. Paro is outfitted with dual 32-bit processors, three microphones, twelve tactile sensors covering its fur, touch-sensitive whiskers, and a delicate system of motors and actuators that silently move its limbs and body. The robot responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. It sounds and also responds to voice. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger . It produces sounds similar to a real baby seal and (unlike a real baby seal) is active during the day and sleeps at night.
2003 – Paro