School buys telepresence robot to help sick student

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

Without machines, Zachary Thomason wouldn’t live very long. The boy has been on a ventilator for all of his 12 years because he suffers from a rare muscle disorder that makes him extremely weak.

Until now, X-linked myotubular myopathy has prevented him from going to school regularly. But since the Paragould School District in Arkansas purchased a $5,000 VGo telepresence robot, chances are he’ll become an avatar-style student soon.

Zach likes to play PlayStation, so he can remote-control the VGo, which is basically a Webcam on wheels. At 4 feet tall, it’s designed to project the user’s presence into a remote location with two-way audio and video, allowing for richer interaction than a phone call or stationary Webcam.

It can be used wherever there’s a Wi-Fi or Verizon 4G LTE signal, and docks itself for a recharge at the click of a button.

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