28 Aug
Robot Relieves Loneliness in Chronically Ill Kids Robot Relieves Loneliness in Chronically Ill Kids

Robot Relieves Loneliness in Chronically Ill Kids

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Illness of any kind can prove isolating. Long-term illness even more so. All sense of what seemed normal can vanish. For kids, that disappearing act can seem permanent.

So, a 26-year-old Norweigian engineer, Karen Dolva, decided to do something to help the problem rather than sink into her own cutting-edge geekiness. As she recently told the Guardian newspaper, “There are a lot of engineers who don’t want to make something useful – they want to make something cool.”

Consider Dolva on the useful end of that spectrum. The co-founder of the startup No Isolation, Dolva and her colleagues have embarked on a quest to live up to their group's name -- especially for chronically ill children. Part of their solution: A telepresence robot known as AV1.

Designed to sit on a vacant desk in the classroom, the robot is intended to be the ears and eyes of the absent, sick child. The robot can focus on the teacher and can also rotate 360 degrees to show other views of the classroom, especially the faces of the sick child's classmates.

When the child at home wants to ask a question, a blue light illuminates on top of the robot's head. And of the child wants to surreptitiously share something with a classmate, the robot can be switched into whispering mode so as not to disrupt the class.

One 17-year-old who uses the AV1, which retails for £2,200 (about $2,850 USD), told the Guardian, "I have security now because of AV1. She gave me hope in a very dark time. As a teenager, it is incredibly reassuring to know this assistive technology is available and can help me forge my future.”

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Read 1345 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 09:44
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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