Smartphones, computers, pads and other technological devices are often developed in the States or China, with the target group being 34-year old “Jack” – an affluent, tech-savvy and healthy man. With that top of mind, Norwegian-based No Isolation was founded in Oslo four years ago to develop technology to include everyone in the society.
Please note that this blog post is written in collaboration with No Isolation as part of Visma’s initiative to actively contribute to making the AV1 robot accessible to as many children with long-term illnesses as possible.
Generic technology doesn’t fit all. Whilst the “average” technology user has been spoiled with increasingly more efficient and smart solutions, other people with more special needs have been neglected and forgotten. One of those groups are children and young people who fall outside of everyday school life, for example, caused by long-term illness.
A deputy that helps children hear, see and participate in the classroom without being present
When starting the project, it was alarming to see how difficult it is for young long-term sick to use today’s technology to catch up with friends – you normally don’t use text messaging to talk to someone whom you have not seen in several months. Especially not if the only thing you have to talk about is the recent blood tests and the doctor’s waiting room.
After receiving a long-term diagnosis, the children became extras in their own lives, regardless of whether they had the latest and most expensive smartphone.
After countless interviews, it became clear to us that what these seriously ill children needed was a form of school attendance even whey they could not physically be at school. They had to be able to participate in the class environment and join their classmates.
That is when the idea of AV1 came about: It would be a deputy who allowed these kids to hear, see and participate in the classroom. The prototype was ready in January 2016 and through extensive testing we realised that AV1 made everyday life better for these children: they felt more included, more seen and felt as though they could participate in their own everyday lives again.
Since then, AV1 has helped more than 2,000 Norwegian children – and many more in other countries.
Teachers and school management are important supporters
It became obvious to us early on that teachers and other school resources were important backers for AV1 to solve the problems of the student who could not attend school. Also, we realised that many considerations need to be taken into account for a digital tool to stand in a classroom.
Therefore, we had a dialogue with The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) who made us aware of the measures we had to take. Earlier this year, we came second in DPA’s competition “Privacy in practice” for the work we have put into the development (link to Norwegian article).
This work has led to the development of technology that is custom made to be present in a classroom:
- The robot indicates when the student at home logs on and is connected. Then the whole robot lights up!
- The teacher can easily turn off the AV1 in the classroom by simply pushing a button.
- It’s impossible to create a video stream from the classroom – it’s only possible to attend via the AV1 in real-time.
- If the resident child attempts to take a screenshot or record the transfer, the video transfer will automatically stop.
- AV1 is a personal tool. Only one child can use an AV1, the robot is an avatar for that child. The child has a personal password.
- AV1 should only be used by the child himself/herself and not parents or others.
- AV1 is an end-to-end encrypted communication solution that means only the sender (the child) and the receiver (the classroom) have access to the video stream.
It’s exciting to see how AV1 will develop further, and in particular what children will be able to benefit from it in the future. When working with children that are reluctant to school, which we had not initially envisioned that we would work on, preliminary results show that for many, AV1 is a huge help to get children back into the classroom.
And that’s always the goal of AV1: Helping children return to their everyday life and community. For those living on the outskirts of society, be it children with a lot of absences, the elderly or people with disabilities, technology can be so much more than a fancy thing, it can be a bridge back to the community.
Want to learn more about how we use technology to improve people’s everyday lives and what we do to support local communities? Visit our Responsibility page.