Japan's therapeutic robots

aiboIf you ever needed a way to illustrate the difference between the US and Japan when it comes to technology, you need look no further than the fact that in Japan they're already well on their way to having robots take care of the elderly (we're just getting started here). The New York Times had an article about this a few weeks ago, focusing mainly on robotic machines for washing people and that sort of thing, but the AP has a story about the use of robots for more therapeutic purposes (no, not like that!). Mainly it involves helping people with memory loss by making robots that mimic cuddly animals, like the Paro, a robotic baby seal, or dressing up Sony's Aibo robotic dog in plush clothing (do we detect the beginnings of a new trend?)