Sunday October 01, 2017

This robot that goes to school for sick kids who can't

Meet AV1 - a robot that allows a sick child to participate in school.

Meet AV1 - a robot that allows a sick child to participate in school. (No Isolation)

Listen 6:45

When children are sick and away from school, it's not just the lessons they're missing out on. It's also the social interaction with their fellow students.

So Norwegian startup No Isolation has come up with a way to address that lack of connection, with AV1, a robot that functions as the eyes, ears and mouth of chronically ill children.

Karen Dolva, a computer scientist and co-founder of the company, said she wanted to come up with something that wasn't just a gimmick, but that actually worked to combat social isolation in kids.

Karen Dolva

Karen Dolva (Twitter)

So AV1 not only allows the child a 360-degree-view of the classroom, as well as being able to listen live to the class, it also allows the child to speak back - as either a question to the class or a conspiratorial whisper to a classmate.

So far, there are several hundred children using AV1, mostly in Norway. But the international reach is expanding, Karen says.

There is also no need to limit AV1 to children. Karen also hopes that it might be adopted by older people, who have trouble going outside, as a way to connect to friends, family and other social groups.