It might shock you to know there’s a Cyberdyne corporation in Japan.
But what only might shock you is to discover that they’re into robotics…but the helpful kind. For instance, they’re working on a robotic suit that functions almost like an exoskeleton, augmenting weak limbs with outside mechanical help. The really interesting part? Since Japan’s population is getting older at a greater rate than the United States’, what I’m describing here could well become a “shape of things to come” sort of article for baby boomers right here.
The Japanese company is actually putting together other robots, too–not just walkers. How about a robot pet called the Paro? It looks like a seal but is covered in fur, designed to offer the same benefits of a pet but without the difficulty and expense. Holding and petting it causes sensors to form a “reaction”, while audio sensors allow it to “respond” to its name and neglecting it causes it to cry out, thus simulating a live pet.
One of the lead developers described it thusly:
“You forget it’s a robot. Some people think it’s almost a baby, and that’s a good thing, as it elicits a few little memories” from residents’ younger days.”
There are even more that are currently in development–robot housekeepers and walking PCs that surf the web at your voice command–so the future looks like it’s full of robots…at least for the Japanese.