Thousands of children across the globe suffer from immune disorders, e.g. primary immunodeficiency (PI). As a result, their ability to interact with other children – or even the rest of the world – is incredibly limited. We often neglect the importance of social interactions, whether it’s in school, out in public, or elsewhere. Without them, those immune disorders could quickly cause psychological disorders down the road.
To combat this, Norwegian robotics company No Isolation has introduced their first product. Say hello to AV1 – a robot avatar that’ll allow sick children at home to finally join the rest of the world. Whether that child has an immune disorder or is simply sick in bed for the time being, no longer will that stop them from going to school or spending time with their friends. With the AV1 robot via an app on your phone, attending school and playing with your friends becomes a lot easier.
The AV1 is already in full operation, serving as avatars for sick children, in the countries of Norway and Sweden. They’ve also begun being integrated in Denmark and the Netherlands. Equipped with Wi-Fi and 2G/3G/4G mobile networks, this little robot provides a camera, microphone, and built-in loudspeaker. As soon as the child connects to their AV1 unit, its eyes begin to light up.
Five to ten years from now, avatar-based robotics will have advanced to the point where not only sick children are using them, but millions more as well. To be in two places at once is normally something only achievable in quantum physics, but with the help of robots, our material realm will suffice. We’re already starting to see this occur with the help of what are known as telepresence robots. Controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden was able to attend several conferences here in the United States – despite being physically in Russia – by using a telepresence robot.
Eventually, these robots will hit the mainstream and become readily available to everyone – not just sick children or whistleblowers in hiding. When that time comes, our ability to travel in multiple locations, attend various different meetups at the same time, etc. will be that much more significant. It’ll truly redefine multitasking!
“AV1 is a personal robot that functions as an avatar for children and young adults suffering from long-term illness. AV1 allows them to be present, even from their beds.”
– No Isolation
Thirty to fifty years from now, robots serving as avatars will be as commonplace as a smartphone today. For those of who enjoy science fiction, I’m sure you’re aware of the sci-fi film Surrogates starring Bruce Willis. In this fictional world, everyone had abandoned their meat-suits and instead did everything using a robotic avatar – from shopping, to going to work, to paying their bills.
Of course, like most sci-fi films, the scenario was depicted under dystopian settings. Our actual future, however, will have the possibility of being the complete contrary. With the help of other robotics systems, like nanobots, our physical bodies will be able to maintain a healthy state while we use our avatars during the day. For others, they’ll instead opt for a more cohesive merging between their biological substrate and robotic systems. Cyborgs already exist today, but in fifty years time, we won’t even be able to tell who is human, who is cyborg, and who is an avatar.
Photo Credit: No Isolation