I've had it in my mind for some time that my grandparents could really benefit from a robotic companion -- someone to let them know when one of the grandkids has emailed, to remind them to take their meds (even to go get the pills for them), to keep an eye on their health and safety, and so on. And I knew Japan, among other Asian countries, has really been at the forefront of this research.
But I wasn't expecting to learn today that robots seem to be less exciting to the elderly than expected. Apparently, the Ifbot in question spent a month entertaining the residents of a nursing home before they got bored with it. What has been successful, however, are lower-tech products like the i-pot send an update to family every time someone makes tea with it, to show that Grandma or Grandpa is up and around. Really interesting reading for anyone considering the elder care market.
Thanks for the tip, Gui!