The Verizon Foundation Provides 15 VGos to US Classrooms
Treatments for a brain tumor kept Paris Luckowski out of his fourth grade classroom for much of last spring. Yet the Newark, N.J., student was able to keep pace — and even socialize — with his St. Philip’s Academy classmates during school.
His presence in the bustling hallways and in class was possible thanks to a robot equipped with interactive communication powered by Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless network. The four-foot VGo robot’s “face” is a screen through which Luckowski’s classmates and teachers could see him. In turn, Luckowski could see and contribute in class via Webcam video and a microphone. Controlling the robot from home via computer, Luckowski guided his hi-tech stand-in as it scooted around the school on wheels.
The interactive robot is the result of collaboration between Verizon and VGo, a product of a unique Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. The center is one of two such Verizon labs where companies can work with our experts to incorporate the transformational power of 4G LTE into new devices and applications .
The Verizon Foundation saw the VGo “telepresence” robots as an opportunity to explore innovative uses of our technology and is providing VGos to 15 institutions nationwide. At St. Philip’s in Newark, NJ, the robot provides a variety of academic benefits: enabling a student from Ghana to be in a classroom sharing her daily life and culture with students; allowing a learning specialist to observe a student remotely without distracting the class; bringing an algebra tutor into the class virtually to teach advanced students while the teacher helps other students one-on-one; and giving distant parents the chance to get a virtual experience of what goes on in the classroom.
Markets for robot technology include, among others, the health care industry, where robots enable doctors and care givers to diagnose and provide other services remotely, and the security field, where the robots can serve as mobile eyes and ears around the clock.
In Luckowski’s case, the Verizon-VGo effort is providing more than a high school education, it’s enabled him to escape his isolated world, interact with his peers and make new friends outside his home.