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Can These Family Robots Cure Loneliness?

By: Isabelle Wang

At the home of Audrey and Ken Mattlin, it seems like the future has arrived as family robots take over tasks that used to be the jobs of friends. The Mattlin’s now own three robots: ElliQ, Astro, and Jibo.

ElliQ takes the shape of a table lamp and mostly speaks with Audrey, age 84. Robots like ElliQ could help senior citizens because even if they are alone, they still have a friend to talk to. Sometimes, Audrey even prefers to speak to ElliQ rather than her own husband, Ken.

Astro looks like a short-handled vacuum cleaner with a screen with goo-goo-eyes for a face. He acts like a dog and follows you around the house, but if you ask him to crank up the music, he becomes a real D.J. Astro therefore fulfills the job of both a dog and a private musician.

Jibo is the most life-like of the three robots. If you put him on the dance floor, he isn’t shy to show off his awesome dance steps. Ken, age 86, loves this robot as it keeps him entertained. Jibo would also be great with an elder because he can entertain them when they are bored.

Research conducted this month on companion robots shows that it is possible that a robot can cure a human’s stress and loneliness. Of course, the best way to relieve loneliness is to have a real friend to hang out with, but robots are a way to ease the loneliness of isolated people who have no other options.

Robots can also help disabled people and children. For example, if you have medication you need to take, it can remind you to take it. Also, if you need to go outside to walk your dog, or just exercise, the robot can remind you. Ken paid $900 for an earlier version of Astro, but now it costs two times the amount. ElliQ cost a few hundred dollars, and Jibo, sadly, isn’t sold anymore. Overall, robots can help improve your life by doing the basic chores for you, and can help you mentally.

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