Highly technical – and highly emotional
An avatar for sick kids
Complex accidents, serious illnesses – children faced with a prolonged stay in hospital are wrenched from their familiar environment, which can have a significant adverse impact on their mental wellbeing – and thus on the healing process. The Avatar Kids project uses up-to-the-minute technology to help young long-term patients communicate directly – orally and in writing – with their school friends, siblings and parents. With the friendly, smiley Nao robot avatar acting as their personal representative in the classroom, patients can participate fully in lessons from their hospital bed and talk to the teacher and their classmates in real time. The children can also choose from a list of emotions and imbue Nao with their feelings. It’s even possible to take the avatar robot for a walk by holding its hand.
Nao and its technical accomplishments represents a win-win situation for all involved: the patients maintain their social lives and their education, their classmates learn a modern form of communication, their families can stay (virtually) close to their son or daughter – and, equally valid, the hospital staff see the children smile despite the medical interventions they have to undergo.
Oral and written understanding and communication that go beyond language and other constraints – those are also Apostroph Group’s key objectives. We find the Avatar Kids project compelling. How about you? If so, tell others about it!! Avatar Kids would like your support – it wants to see the project expand quickly, allowing the friendly Nao and his young patients to take part in school lessons in as many hospitals as possible.
That said, there’s one thing the inventors of the avatar robot haven’t worked out yet: Swiss children traditionally barbecue sausages when they go on a class outing – so who’ll be eating the virtual ones barbecued by Nao?