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Bubble boy attends school via robot

A seven-year-old boy with extreme allergies sends a telepresence robot to school in his stead.

(Credit: VGo Communications)

A young boy with extreme allergies sends a telepresence robot to school in his stead.

Seven-year-old New Yorker Devon Carrow is allergic to almost everything. Pets, dust, detergents, peanuts, dairy — the list of things that threaten his life is a long one. Understandably, the classroom is a highly volatile environment for him, so in order to get an education while staying safe he attends school via robot. The VGo telepresence robot, to be precise.

Telepresence robots are just starting to enter the consumer marketplace, so their potential has yet to be fully explored; yet, for those who are immobilised due to injury or illness, it seems that the technology may be something of a life saver.

Using the VGo robot, Devon is able to attend classes, interact with his fellow students and teachers and roll around the hallways of Winchester Elementary School in West Seneca, New York.

At home, he has a workspace set up so that he can do his schoolwork just as though he were there in the classroom. His head and shoulders appear in the robot's screen, while a camera streams the robot's view back to him at home via Wi-Fi.

"The only thing that's different is Devon is not in the classroom," his mother, René Darrow, told Buffalo News. "He's required to do everything every other kid does in the class."

Except, perhaps, change out of his pyjama pants.