$6000 Robo-Seal a Medical Device?

A robotic baby seal named 'Paro', produced by a Japanese company, has been introduced in a few nursing homes. 'Paro' is classfied as a Class II Medical Device to be utilized as a human-interaction robot for 'interaction therapy'. Basically, it's an artificial, low-maintenance pet that interacts with patients. 'Paro' utilizes tactile sensors and microphones to record interactions with patients, and then performs actions that elicit positive responses from patients. There have been mixed responses from patients utilizing the technology, and numerous studies are currently being conducted in Japan and the US to determine effectiveness.

Sales are currently estimated at approximately 1600 units. With development costs over $12 million, the company will have to increase sales dramatically in order to become profitable. If the concept catches on, it could introduce a new device segment.

Paro Therapeutic Robots
Wall Street Journal

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