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"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Purza the Pukha  
  A toy with sensors used to monitor children in hospitals.  

Pukhas are described in the novel as "specially programmed stabilizing surrogate devices."

Pukhas, deriving their name from the imaginary companions discovered by needful children, had become widely used in pediatrics. They could be programmed for a variety of uses, but more often were used in surgical and long-term care with great effect and as surrogates for intense dependency cases. ...thought had been given to its programming: its long soft hair was composed of receptors, monitoring the child's physical and psychic health. It could, receiving danger signals from the Rowan, initiate pacifying sentiments, encourage conversation and, of paramount importance, moderate the little girl's mental "voice." It also responded with its soothing, rumbling purr when the little girl became restless or distressed.
From The Rowan, by Anne McCaffrey.
Published by Penguin Putnam in 1990
Additional resources -

This does not appear to be a robotic device capable of independent movement.

Compare to the electric sheep and other pets in Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Rowan
  More Ideas and Technology by Anne McCaffrey
  Tech news articles related to The Rowan
  Tech news articles related to works by Anne McCaffrey

Purza the Pukha-related news articles:
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  - Auti Interactive Toy For Autistic Children
  - MEDi Robot Calms The Nervous Patient
  - Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea

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