Healing with Robot Friends: Dr. Shibata and PARO Lecture

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

The JICC is proud to welcome Dr. Takanori Shibata, a visionary in the field of Robot Therapy – a form of treatment that uses robots to promote physical and emotional health in the patients who interact with them.

Dr. Shibata will lecture on his creation, a baby seal called PARO, which also happens to be a neurological therapeutic medical device for anxiety, pain, depression, stress, loneliness, sleep, etc. for patients such as elderly with dementia, cancer patients, children and adults with developmental problems, people with PTSD and people with brain injury. Starting from the early stages of the robot’s development in 1993, Dr. Shibata will tell the story of PARO: the inspirations and challenges that led to his development, the introduction of the robot to the Japanese market in 2005, and how over the years over 5,000 of these little robot seals have brought joy and healing to patients in health care facilities, hospitals, schools and at homes in more than 30 countries around the world.

Come to the JICC, meet PARO, and hear his story from the inventor himself! After his talk, Dr. Shibata will be taking questions from the audience.


Prof. Takanori Shibata received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Electronic and Mechanical Engineering from Nagoya University in '89, '91 and '92, respectively. He was a research scientist at AIST from '93 to '98. Concurrently, he was a visiting research scientist at the AI Lab, MIT from '95 to '98, and at the AI Lab, Univ. of Zurich in '96. At the AIST, Dr. Shibata was a senior research scientist from '98 to '13. Concurrently, he was the Deputy Director for Information and Communication Technology Policy, Cabinet Office of Japan in 2009 and 2010.

Since 2013, he has held his current positions of Chief Senior Research Scientist at the Human Informatics Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST); Professor at the School of Computing, Tokyo Institute of Technology; and Visiting Fellow at The AgeLab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His research interests include human-robot interaction, robot therapy, mental health for astronauts on long-term missions (e.g. to Mars), and humanitarian de-mining. He was certified as the inventor of a seal robot named PARO, the World’s Most Therapeutic Robot, by Guinness World Records in 2002. He received many awards including the Robot of the Year by METI, Japan in 2006, The Outstanding Young Person (TOYP) of the world by Junior Chamber International in 2004, and the Japanese Prime Minister’s Award in 2003. In 2015, PARO was awarded the “Patient Trophy” for innovation in the field of non-pharmacological therapy for dementia by the Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, France. In 2017, PARO was awarded the “Best of the Best” by the Argentum (organization of senior living communities) in the US.

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