“Having Archiebot has been the best thing"

Archie’s a very lively boy who’s absolutely gaming mad, and his eyes are seemingly set on becoming a game developer one day. He and his brother enjoy playing all the popular games in their gaming den: Minecraft, Fall Guys etc… and the whole family are wonderfully positive and friendly, none more so than Archie.

The past months have been difficult for him though. He’s clinically extremely vulnerable and has been isolated for over a year due to medication and treatment for an injury relating to a genetic condition called PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome. Even when his school reopened in the autumn and spring, he wasn’t able to attend lessons and spend time with his friends.

His mum heard of our BubbleBusters project last year while looking for ways to keep him in school. It’s an initiative that tackles the isolation and loneliness of children with immunodeficiency who can’t go to school because of a high infection risk due to their severely weakened immune system. An desktop robot produced by the company No Isolation takes the child’s place in the classroom and playground, and through it the child is able to hear, see and speak to their friends and teacher from their home or hospital bed using a mobile phone or tablet.

Our BubbleBusters team liaised remotely with both Archie’s family and the school to introduce the project and establish that internet connectivity in the house and the school was accessible and reliable. They then sent a loan desktop robot to the school and a loan iPad to Archie, overseeing the pairing of the technology and guiding Archie and his family through the process of connection and use.

The robot was an immediate success. “Archie and his class called it ‘Archiebot’,” said his mum. “It’s a great way for him to talk to his classmates and teacher. As well as being able to turn, look around the class and communicate, Archiebot can also make different faces and light up his head when he knows the answer to a question.”

Below: Archie at home and a No Isolation robot similar to Archiebot in a school setting

tw images: smiling boy wearing headhones, and a small robot

“Having Archiebot has been the best thing for Archie. This amazing piece of technology allows him to keep up with his schoolwork and – more importantly at times – have social interaction with his peers. If he didn’t have Archiebot then contact would be extremely limited for him both socially and educationally.”

Both his school and his family have made phenomenal use of the AV1 robot, using it all day, five days a week. He’s rarely missed a lesson, and the school have been amazing in helping him to use it creatively.

“In the build up to Christmas Archiebot went on daily trips to the library to look at a big present and guess with his classmates what was inside,” explained his mum. “Archie also had his school Christmas dinner virtually with all his friends and spent the morning making his party hat to wear during the meal!”

The delight and joy that Archie feels being in touch with his friends is apparent from the moment you speak to him, not to mention the peace of mind it brings his parents knowing he’s no longer missing out. Although he’s planning to partially return to school after the Easter break, the ongoing COVID-19 situation and management of his health risks mean it’s likely that Archiebot is going to be a close and valued friend of the family for a considerable time to come, on those occasions if and when there are times when he needs to self-isolate again.

Find out more about the BubbleBusters project.