Watching a loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is truly heartbreaking, and it can take a massive emotional and financial toll. Emotional support animals have become very popular in helping these kinds of patients, but not everyone with memory loss has the means to care for a dog or cat that can help to ease their pain and bring some happiness into their lives.
That’s where the Tombot comes in. The company’s website sums its product up this way: “We create robotic animals that transform the daily lives of individuals, families and communities facing health adversities.”
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Tom Stevens is the CEO and founder of Tombot. He knows what dementia can do; his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. Stevens’ mother had a dog, but it soon became obvious that she could no longer care for the dog because of her condition. And that just made her feel even more lonely and isolated.
Stevens had invested in robotics before so he thought about a way to possibly come up with a robotic dog that would seem real enough to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients like his mother. Stevens partnered with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and came up with a prototype for a robotic dog named “Jennie”.
Jennie can’t walk and needs to be carried on a pillow, but she has many interactive features. She makes noises that are recordings of real puppies, her tail wags, and she moves and tilts her head when she is touched. Also, her interactions can be tracked and managed through an app, so family members and caregivers can easily manage the robotic dog.
The robotic dogs cost $399. The first batch already sold out, but you can sign up on Tombot’s waiting list so you’ll be ready to go when the second “litter” of pups is ready to be processed.
Here’s a video of Tom Stevens talking about his fascinating product.
A pretty interesting idea, to be sure.
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments!