Cyber-student: child attends school via robot

Cyber-student: child attends school via robot

Some of you may remember John Travolta as The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.  He played a character with no effective immune system, who had to be protected from the germs in the air we all breathe.  The story stressed the isolation in which he lived.

The condition portrayed is a real one.  There are people who are so susceptible to disease that they have to be protected from exposure to it.

Lyndon Baty of Texas is one such person.

While the internet can clearly give a home-bound person more interaction, it’s not an easy way to interact with other kids in school.  They may have the web on their phones, but they probably aren’t stopping in the hallway to say, “Hi!”

The world recently changed for Baty.  He now attends school with other students, talks to them in the halls, and asks question in class. 

How?

Via robot. 

He uses a VGO robot, which allows him to see and hear what is going on, and for others to see and hear his face.  It rolls from classroom to classroom.

That’s a very different experience from having, say, a webcam on a laptop on a desk.  The robot can turn, can actually have interaction with other students and school staff.

He’s using a Vgo:

Vgo.com 

The Vgo robot can be used for telepresence anywhere in a building where there is wi-fi.  It doesn’t have arms, so I assume other people might have to open doors for it.  It can tilt and pan, though, so it can look up and down.  I do picture a cartoon with a Vgo looking up at one of those climbing ropes in gym class…

This is an incredible advancement for Lyndon, and you can certainly see other applications with more common conditions.  Hurt your back and can’t go to work for a week?  A Vgo can.  Want to go to college in Paris?  Save the airfare and room costs.  The site says the cost is can be under $6,000 plus an annual contract…that would be cheaper than a lot of travel.  Of course, you’d still have to be awake at the appropriate time, but with a lot less wear and tear than actual travel…no TSA screenings, for one thing. 😉

Hey, there’s a promotion!  Have a contest, and the winner gets to attend this year’s Comic-Con…via Vgo!  Maybe I’ll write to the company and the con…not that that Comic-Con particularly needs more publicity.  ;)  It would be especially good for someone who was disabled, but would work for anybody.  Oh, and hey…you could put Spock ears on it for a costume. 🙂

 Seriously, this is a great step forward…congratulation to Lyndon, the school district, Vgo…and the students and staff at the school!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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