17 robots ease 17 young lives

Every once in a while something comes along that seems to be just plain good for everyone involved, without any real ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. Last week, employees at Telia Norway handed out 17 social robots to hospitalized kids with serious illnesses.

It was the first ever “AV1 Robot Awards”, an event organized by Telia Norway and the Norwegian foundation Corneliastiftelsen. There have been stories about the little white critters from start-up No Isolation on this space before – they are communications robots, or telepresence robots, specifically developed for children and young adults with long-term illness. Through the robots, the kids are able to participate in school classes or during events, controlling the robots from an ipad or a smartphone.

The event was part of Telia's YOUNITE initiative, which encourages employees to contribute to society through their work.

 “These kids have difficulty experiencing the joy that most kids do in their everyday life, therefore it is so important that we create this joy for them,” says Christofer Hovde, YOUNITE Lead, Telia Norway. “To be able to participate more in what their friends and classmates do, is really a life-changing moment for many of them.”

 The organizers of the event had received 17 “nominations” for a robot from the sick kids themselves or their family and friends. Each of the kids’ story was read out during the event – and all 17 received their own robot.

 “There is no way we can say no to any of them,” Hovde says. “It is extremely emotional to hear their stories, and a great pleasure to help them by giving them something positive in an otherwise tough situation.”

 Present at the event were the YOUNITE volunteers and AV1 ambassadors from Telia Norway and Corneliastiftelsen representative AnneFi Troye. No Isolation CEO Karen Dolva joined via her own robot from London, UK. The children are, unfortunately, too sick to take part. The event and a greeting were recorded, and sent to them after the ceremony.

 The robots are financed by Telia Norway’s mobile phone recycling program.  

 “This will really increase my son’s quality of life,” said one parent. “We have thought about buying the AV1 ourselves, but it was too expensive for us.”

 “My daughter is in and out of hospital,” said another parent. “Every time it happens she is anxious about getting comments from school about missing out. This opportunity will make her calmer, and her life better.”