Following robotic versions of cats and golden retriever puppies designed to provide companionship to seniors without all of the cleanup and demands of pet ownership, Ageless Innovation’s Joy For All line is introducing a new animatronic bird designed to perch on a walker to help motivate older adults to embrace their mobility aids.
The idea for the Walker Squawker (yes, that’s what it’s actually called) is credited to 93-year-old Rita Melone who, after 90 years of getting around on her own, found it challenging to adapt to a walker, and to remember to actually use it whenever she got up. But instead of constant reminders from a nurse or other caregiver which could create negative associations to a mobility aid, the Walker Squawker seems like a fun and innocuous way to passively encourage walker use because its animated movements are designed to emulate a real bird — a species which, as far as we know, doesn’t spend a lot of its time judging humanity.
Available this spring in both a Bluebird and Cardinal design for $US65 ($84) each, the Walker Squawker includes a removable perch that can be attached to almost any walking aid, and it uses a motion sensor to detect and reward movement by chirping out both authentic native bird sounds, as well as recognisable songs. The robotic bird can’t actually fly, or even move its wings, but its head darts from side to side, and its beak moves in sync with the sounds it’s making.
To make the Walker Squawker even more of a companion pet and not just a mobility motivator, the birds can also be removed from their perches and held, petted, and even cuddled, and will use something called “ChirpBack Technology” to respond to their owner’s voice. Without wifi connectivity or a SIM card, it’s doubtful the birds can learn or react to specific phrases in the way that a smart assistant can, but it’s not like you can carry on a back and forth conversation with a real bird either.