A telepresence robot designed by Oslo-based start-up No Isolation is helping children with chronic illnesses take part in lessons and everyday social life.
The robot sits in the classroom or social situation and streams video content back to the child who’s at home or hospital . They can interact in lessons through the robot and talk to their fellow pupils and friends almost as if they were in the room.
The child is also able to look around the room and engage in conversation, making them feel much more involved and preventing them from missing out on day-to-day life.
When the student wants to ask a question or contribute, a light on the robot starts blinking and then the teacher or colleague can allow them to contribute.
If the pupil doesn’t want to participate – for example if they feel too ill to do so, they can change the robots head to a blue light.
One student using the robot, 16-year old Zoe Johnson has recently taken her GCSEs using the robot. She was diagnosed with ME in 2014 and although has missed out on a lot of school, AV1 is helping her stay on track with her studies.
“It makes my life a lot more exciting and makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten,” Zoe told the BBC.
Founder of No Isolation, Karen Dolva said her experience working on a children’s ward made it clear how lonely the children were when learning. After researching into a solution with friends, she found that having social media and apps weren’t enough to get rid of that loneliness.
“These kids were miserable and only seeing their families,” she told the BBC. “We realised the kids needed to have a presence somewhere they weren’t.”
The robot doesn’t have a screen or allow the sick student to be seen because the research showed that often, ill patients don’t want others to see how they feel.