Paro's Model

1. A baby Harp seal
Paro is modeled after a baby harp seal, which can be found at Madeleine Island, in the north-eastern part of Canada. Paro's biological research video in 2002
2. Why is Paro modeled after a baby harp seal?
Robots can be divided into four categories according to their appearance:
1)  Human-like,
2)  Familiar animals as pets, such as dogs and cats,
3)  Non-familiar animals as pets, such as seals, penguins, and whales,
4)  New characters and artificial animals.
  While designing a robot's appearance, it is very important to keep in mind our everyday experiences and knowledge. When we see a humanoid robot, we expect the robots to run, jump, and work like human beings. Although humanoid robots are very technologically advanced, they cannot act exactly like human beings. Once initial expectations are not satisfied, users can be disappointed with robots and eventually lose interest in interacting with them.
  The same idea applies to robots that look like familiar animals, such as dogs and cats. Once again, it is very difficult to make robots behave and seem exactly like real animals. Previously, we created a dog-like and a cat-like robot, which were then evaluated by users. In the case of the dog-robot, people did not recognize it as a dog because it was too mechanical. As for the cat, its very cat-like appearance initially led people to give it a high evaluation, exclaiming "It is like a real cat!" However, as people continued playing with the cat-robot, their evaluation decreased. Since cats are familiar animals to many people, they tended to compare the robot with the real cat. Their opinions changed to things like "This robot is different from my cat!" or "My cat is softer than this robot!" The differences between real cats and the cat-robot became a source of disappointment.
  New characters and artificial animals can be very meaningful for those who have an interest in such things, but also run the risk of having no meaning for others. Whether these kinds of robots can be accepted or not depends on the different interests people have.
  As for non-familiar animals, we can assume that most people have never had a seal, penguin, or whale as pets, but know something about them. From our experiences, we have found that people are generally interested in interacting with robots modeled after non-familiar animals. Especially, Paro, our seal-like robot, has received high evaluations, such as "Cute! Cute!." We have seen people develop an emotional attachment to Paro as they interact with it. Paro is easily accepted by many people as a partner, without being compared with a real seal.
Paro's Model