From the BBC:
Seventy-eight-year-old widow, Akino Okano, is lonely.
To help combat the loneliness of longevity – and in true Japanese style – the country has turned to technology for guidance.
Akino has been introduced to Primo Puel, an interactive doll that talks, giggles and even asks for cuddles.
It provides her with much of the company she longs for, especially in the evening.
Originally designed to be a substitute boyfriend for young single girls in the workforce, the doll has become an unexpected hit with elderly people across Japan.
Since they came on to the market five years ago, more than one million dolls have been sold.
Based on the well-known properties of animal therapy, Paro has been designed to provide relaxation, entertainment and companionship through physical interaction.
Covered in soft white antibacterial fur, Paro’s artificial intelligence means it can mimic animal behaviour and over time, even develop its own character.
Sensors beneath its fur and whiskers trigger the seal to move and respond to petting. It’s eyes open and close, and its flippers can move too.
Other in-built sensors mean Paro can respond to sight, sound, temperature and even posture. Although not able to talk, the latest Paro models can recognise seven different languages.