The robot with the mostess

Cute and cuddly, this $6,000 learning robot does everything a real seal would do, except eat live fish and smell like moldy sea water.

Unlike the AVN Adult Expo down the hall, there's not very much that's soft and pettable at the tech-centric CES Expo.

Maybe that's why grown men were crowding around the PARO booth, jostling to get their time with a plushy baby seal toy.

Here's the great part: this plushy white-furred seal with the heart-rending big black eyes is a ROBOT.

A Japanese robot, of course. PARO is an "advanced interactive robot which provides psychological, physiological and social effects to human beings through physical interaction." The fuzzy toys, which cuddle and coo and blink and sleep, have been deployed in Japan and Europe since 2003 in nursing homes and other therapeutic situations where live animals may not be optimal.

Basically a $6,000 Furby, PARO has a learning curve and responds to light, sound, temperature and touch.

My first thought, of course, was awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Second thought: Wait till the guys at the Adult Expo get their hands on this technology.


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