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Robot goes to school for 7-year-old boy

new york peanut allergy vgo communications

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#1 Hum

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 13:30

When Devon Carrow was a baby, a cookie-coated kiss from his mom made him break out in hives. An accidental encounter with peanuts at his godparents' home three months later landed him in the hospital, under an oxygen tent. His food allergies are so severe that he doesn't even have to eat something in order to have a life-threatening reaction -- just breathing in trace amounts of an allergen is enough to send him into anaphylactic shock.

"He's almost like the boy in a bubble," his mother, Rene Carrow, told the Buffalo News. "I try to let him do some things. I want him to have the best life he could have."

Now seven years old, Devon's severe allergies mean that he can't leave the house for long. If he goes to the movies, his mom has to cover the seats with their own sheets and bring popcorn from home in order to avoid an allergic reaction. Perfumes and fabric softeners cause his throat to swell closed; friends have to take showers and change their clothes before visiting. Just sitting in the same classroom with a kid who ate peanut butter at lunch could kill him.

But thanks to technology, the home-bound boy is finally able to attend school in person -- so to speak. He sits in his classroom, runs small errands for his teacher, and participates in group projects all thanks to a $6,000 robot from Nashua, N.H.-based VGo Communications.

"It's not called 'VGo' in the school -- it's 'Devon'," his mother said. "The only thing that's different is Devon is not in the classroom. He's required to do everything ever other kid does in the class."

Devon was homeschooled for Kindergarten, and now attends first grade at the Winchester Elementary School in West Seneca, New York. His mom converted a room in their home for use as a classroom, and two teachers help him manipulate his computer equipment from there. Thanks to the VGo, which he started using in January, Devon can walk the halls of Winchester Elementary with his classmates, check books out of the library, join other kids on the carpet for circle time, and participate on stage during assembly. The only things he can't do are attend gym and lunch, but once the school's wireless system is upgraded, he should be able to hang out in the cafeteria with his buddies while he eats his lunch at home.

The 48-inch-tall robot has wheels and is outfitted with two-way audio and video. The user can manipulate the robot's camera to "see" anything in the room, and a small screen on the front of the robot displays the user's image.

"You can be pretty much anywhere in the world, as long as you're connected to the internet," Ryder says.

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#2 Big b0b

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 14:14

Here's an idea, wear a charcoal filter gas mask with .5micron filters.

#3 thatguyandrew1992

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 14:16

Until the Internet goes out and they lose control over him. Welcome to skynet...

#4 +SharpGreen

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    Now with built-in BS detector.

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 14:17

Here's an idea, wear a charcoal filter gas mask with .5micron filters.

But but....robot

#5 OP Hum

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 14:17

Hypnotherapy would be better.

#6 Growled

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:21

Nice, I guess, but surely there are better options.

#7 zhangm

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:26

Nice, I guess, but surely there are better options.


Better than having a robot avatar?

Get out.

#8 Perfect72

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:33

Would love one to use at work. :D

#9 Dot Matrix

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:34

Cylons..... :shiftyninja:

#10 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:26

I was expecting this...

Posted Image

But instead got this...

Posted Image

I feel robbed! That's not a robot, it's a trolley!

#11 nekkidtruth

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:31

I feel robbed! That's not a robot, it's a trolley!


Hater!!!!

#12 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:37

Hater!!!!


Oh no! I'm a roboticist! :p

#13 Original Poster

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 20:38

just be home schooled its pointless this way and his life must suck

#14 .Neo

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 20:50

"He's very smart," 7-year-old Riley Boody told the Buffalo News. "Every time the teacher asks us something, Devon puts his light on and answers. And, he's funny."

Or just very fast in Google searching.

#15 vetDirtyLarry

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 21:02

I actually had a college professor who had a very similar, if not exactly the same, condition. She only made it through around 3 full classes ever iirc, and even then those classes were almost always her freaking out over something. It was a very odd experience, and did not learn a damn thing really. Students would intentionally take a shower right before class, and that was literally all it would take to make her go running out of the room in a frenzy. She lived in upstate New York on a really isolated farm. She did not come back the following year. I have no idea how she got the job in the first place. Always felt pretty bad for her even being a young college kid not knowing any better. Looking back at it now I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for her, especially trying to teach in New York City. Good luck to this kid, sounds like he is in for the same type of lonely existence.