‘Anti-loneliness’ chairs you can talk to and hug

2014-10-01 12:15

Tokyo – There are times in everyone’s life when only a hug will do. Now one Japanese company has come up with a chair that’s always ready to give a comforting cuddle.

The “tranquillity chair” is built in the shape of a larger-than-life fabric doll with a friendly face and a fetching hat, but more importantly, it has long arms that wrap around the user in an affectionate embrace.

“It makes you feel safe. Anyone can use it, but it is designed for older people,” said a spokesperson for UniCare, which is selling the chair, at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in Tokyo.

About a quarter of Japan’s population is currently over the age of 65, a figure expected to rise to 40% in the coming decades.

The chair is priced at ¥46 000 (about R4 750) and there is also a version adapted for wheelchair users.

Alongside specialist vehicles, beds and toilets on display at the three-day show were a variety of unusual products designed to lift the spirits of older people, who increasingly live on their own.

UniCare’s Life Rhythm Dolls are programmed to remind their owners to take their medicine or go to the toilet at certain times of day.

“They are comforting for people who live alone – they can talk to them and hug them. They also play old Japanese music, which is nostalgic for older people” said the company spokesperson.

Also on display were baby seal robots known as Paro that have been making a splash in therapeutic treatment since 2004.

The cute animatronic devices, developed by Japanese automation pioneer AIST, allow people who are not allowed pets because of apartment rules to enjoy the soothing company of a robotic creature.

“Real animals can scratch and pooh, but this one won’t,” said a demonstrator at the Paro stand.

The lifelike seal cubs move, squeak, and open and close their eyes in response to their surroundings – and they even get angry if you poke them.

There are currently 3 000 of the furry electronic seals in use around the world.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.