A robot seal called Francis is helping people with dementia

ROBOTIC technology from Japan is helping elderly residents in Toowoomba live better lives.

Francis, a paro-therapeutic baby seal robot from Japan, is now living at Freedom Aged Care, Taylor St.

A strong bond has already developed between dementia patient Franklin Todd and the seal.

The seal is bringing the benefits of animal therapy to people who aren't able to have an animal of their own.

Village manager Greer Quinlan said the seal reacted to sound and touch.

"You talk to it and it will look at you and make noises and move its flippers and head.

"The more you cuddle and touch it the more attention it gives to you."

Francis, the paro-therapeutic baby seal robot from Japan with Franklin Todd.
Francis, the paro-therapeutic baby seal robot from Japan with Franklin Todd.

The seal is an advanced interactive robot developed by AIST, a leading Japanese industrial automation pioneer.

Like many dementia patients, Mr Todd at times feels agitated and can wander out of the village.

But the seal calms him down. He sits down and cuddles it, forgetting his agitation.

Freedom does allow residents to bring pets into the home with them, but many aren't able to look after them.

That's where robots like Francis come in. The seal is battery operated and recharges in about five hours through a plastic dummy in its mouth.

The robot is at the home as part of a four week trial. Ms Quinlan said Freedom was interested in buying the seal which costed about $7000.


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