A new study has found that care home residents can interact, bond and become just as attached to robotic dogs as to real ones.
Research carried out by the University of St Louis in the USA found that there was no statistical difference in the alleviation of loneliness felt by those people who interacted with Aibo, a mechanical dog manufactured by Sony, and a dog brought into the home.
"For those people who can't have a living pet but who would like to have a pet, robotics could address the issue of companionship," said William A Banks, professor of geriatric medicine at St Louis University.
Both groups of care home residents felt better than a control group who had not interacted with any dog.
The research was published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.
Robotic pets could also provide a valuable alerting system for care home staff.
"This health companion could follow a person in his home, giving reminders on when to take medication or sending out an alert when a person has suddenly gone from a vertical position to a horizontal one," Dr Banks added.
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