China has a large and growing population of senior citizens. The government is encouraging companies to innovate in order to meet the needs of its older citizens, and one such innovation is the introduction of interactive robots in retirement homes. Robots are now being used as companions to nursing home residents, providing emotional support when needed.

Companion robots require further development before all the glitches are worked out. At present, these robots remain difficult to use. The founder of one of these programs acknowledges that robotic mistakes are an ongoing concern, but he also sees them as an opportunity for laughter.

Responses from residents in this video convey mixed feelings about robotic companions. How do you think robots in this context could be beneficial? In what ways do they fall short of human contact? Tell us in the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion

@00:30 Caitlin Davey:It seemed as though many of the patients weren't all that excited about the robots. I think a problem with these implementations is training and support. If nursing homes spend money to put broken or switched-off robots in patients rooms then they aren't serving this population in need.

@02:47 Thomas Anderson:Check out this interview with David Levy, author of, Love and Sex with Robots in Scientific American.