By: Nicole Capo
If the Boy in the Plastic Bubble had lived in 2013, he might've skipped the bubble altogether and gone full-on robot. At least, that's what New Yorker Devon Carrow did.
Carrow — who's currently in the second grade — suffers from eosinophilic esophagitis, a life-threatening allergic inflammatory condition, as well as anaphylactic shock syndrome. In the past 18 months, two allergic attacks have left Carrow in the intensive care unit. Because of this, he isn't able to go to school like other kids do.
Carrow decided that he wanted an experience that was a little more interactive than your average video conference. Enter the "VGo," a remote-controlled robot that allows the second grader to virtually navigate his school and "go" to his classes like anyone else.
The VGo allows Carrow to “look” down with its attached camera to make sure he doesn’t bump into anything as he moves forward, and also alerts him to large objects ahead. It’s also light enough for people to carry up the stairs when he needs it. It’s basically Skype on wheels, and Carrow is able to maneuver it like you would a remote-controlled car with the help of a teacher who comes to his home every day to help him stay on task.
Think it might be distracting to have a robot with a kid’s face on its screen in the middle of your classroom? Think again. According to The Huffington Post, Devon’s classmates treat the VGo as they would treat any other student, even drawing him as a boy instead of a robot when making get-well cards the last time he was in the hospital.
The VGo isn’t just a gadget to help kids go to school, though. The remote-access robot is already being used for health care and business purposes, as well. And, while we may be wary of certain robots, the VGo wasn’t designed to replace humans. Totally harmless, right?
This is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but with a robot that lets us do work in our pajamas.
[Pic via Flickr - Valerie Everett]