NEW YORK, Oct 8 — A rare genetic disorder often prevents 17-year old Jade Gadd from leaving her house. Denied the life most girls her age take for granted, she’s unable to go to school regularly or socialize, leaving her feeling very isolated. This year though, her school attendance is up thanks to a robot she affectionately named “Bee.”
“When I saw her for the first time, I remember thinking this is going to change things” says Jade, who suffers from hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disease that leaves joints overly flexible and easily dislocated.
“The pain is bad and the dislocations are bad and never knowing whether you’re going to be able to wake up properly tomorrow,” Gadd says. “That’s bad, but what’s worse still is being able to count the people you see a day on one hand.”
That’s where Bee comes in. Less than a foot tall, the AV1 robot avatar made by Norwegian startup No Isolation is helping her interact with teachers and peers. Equipped with a camera, microphone, and speaker, the robot becomes Jade’s eyes and ears, relaying encrypted video of what’s happening in class, or anywhere else it’s placed. Children who are absent from a classroom for a long time can find it hard to return, having missed out on important developments. With Bee, Jade doesn’t have that problem anymore. — Bloomberg