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Senate Aging Committee to Showcase Virtual Talking Dog

Posted By Patrick Kiger On May 22, 2013 @ 1:16 pm In Washington Watch | Comments Disabled

Gerijoy [1]As you’ve probably noticed, congressional events increasingly seem to feature movie stars such as Harrison Ford [2] and other celebrities as a way of gaining public attention for an issue. But at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Healthy Aging Forum [3], scheduled for May 23 on Capitol Hill, there will be an even more unusual guest: GeriJoy [4], the talking virtual dog developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. GeriJoy is specifically designed to give older people with dementia [5] or memory problems continual stimulation from an interactive companion.

Listen to AARP’s interview with GeriJoy cofounder Victor Wang:

According to the GeriJoy website [6], the virtual dog, which can be displayed on a computer or other Internet-connected device, provides “all the availability and unconditional love of an adorable pet, combined with the ability to talk with true intelligence and compassion,” adding: “It’s as if it lives inside a picture frame, so you get the benefits of pet therapy without any smells, allergies, cleaning up, bites, or food and veterinary bills.” (And in the event of a tornado, GeriJoy users don’t have to worry about finding their companion in the wreckage, as this woman did [7].)

Yet another plus: Because the virtual pet actually provides feedback to GeriJoy staffers about what’s happening with the user, it actually can serve as a sort of online watchdog as well. In a recent blog post [8], GeriJoy cofounder Victor Wang [9] recounts how GeriJoy detected that a user’s human caregiver [10] was being verbally abusive, and contacted the user’s daughter to let her know about it. As a result, the daughter fired the caregiver and replaced her with gentler helpers. YouTube Preview Image [11]

Wang, a former Canadian Army officer who did research on human-machine interaction for NASA while at MIT, was inspired to develop the virtual dog by his grandmother in Taiwan, who became depressed while she was living alone [12].

Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, [13]

GeriJoy’s Victor Wang with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) at the Senate, May 23, 2013

GeriJoy also will be on exhibit at AARP’s Health Innovation@50+ Tech Expo [14] on May 31 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


Brain Fitness [15]






Also of Interest


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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/22/senate-aging-committee-gerijoy-virtual-dog-dementia-apps-for-elderly/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/gerijoy.png

[2] Harrison Ford: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/03/22/harrison-ford-high-flying-political-activist/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[3] Healthy Aging Forum: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/24/healthy-aging-forum-capitol-hill-tools-to-improve-lives-of-elderly/

[4] GeriJoy: http://www.gerijoy.com/

[5] dementia: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/04/10/sally-abrahms-5-ways-humor-can-help-you-deal-with-dementia/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[6] GeriJoy website: http://www.gerijoy.com/overview.html

[7] this woman did: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/21/oklahoma-city-tornado-survivor-barbara-garcia-reunites-with-dog/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+aarpblog_bulletintoday+%28AARP+%C2%BB+Bulletin+Today%29?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[8] blog post: http://www.gerijoy.com/3/post/2013/04/case-study-proactive-caregiver-supervision-might-be-a-good-idea.html

[9] Victor Wang: http://www.tedmed.com/speakers/show?id=34760

[10] caregiver: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/22/sally-abrahms-stuffed-animals-as-therapy/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[11] Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVe-BH5TT5U

[12] living alone: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/03/27/risk-factors-of-elderly-isolation-social-isolation-may-speed-up-death/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[13] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/susan-collins-gerijoy.jpg

[14] Health Innovation@50+ Tech Expo: http://health50.org/expo/

[15] Image: http://brain.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-CONT-BHQ-REL-BL

[16] Can Caregivers Help Slow Dementia?: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/02/13/sally-abrahms-study-shows-caregivers-may-slow-dementia/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[17] Putting a New Face on Alzheimer’s: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/05/15/sally-abrahms-the-new-face-of-alzheimers/?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[18] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[19] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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