Robots as companions are a novel idea, but the older generation in Japan isn't warming up to them in nursing homes. See the Reuters' story, "Robots turn off senior citizens in aging Japan."
Here's a snippet from the article:
Ifbot, the resident robot at a Japanese nursing home, can converse, sing, express emotions and give trivia quizzes to seniors to help with their mental agility. Yet the pale-green gizmo has spent much of the past two years languishing in a corner alone.
"The residents liked ifbot for about a month before they lost interest," said Yasuko Sawada, director of the facility in Kyoto, western Japan, shaking her head as she contemplated the 495,000 yen ($4,300), 45-cm-tall (18-inch-tall) "communication robot."
"Stuffed animals are more popular," she remarked dryly.
This sounds a lot like what happens when the majority of people purchase exercise equipment. You use it for about a month, and then you lose interest. Yes, I'm speaking from personal experience.
From what I've read in the news, I think that nursing homes would make a better investment by purchasing a Wii. However, since I don't own a Wii, I don't know if the new Nintendo gaming console loses its magic after a short period of time, as well. Anyone out there with a Wii that is sitting in a corner collecting dust?
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.