Joshua Martinangeli, 7, is too sick to go to school. But the German student can still interact with his teacher and classmates thanks to an avatar robot that sits in his place in the classroom and sends out a blinking signal when he has something to say.
“The children talk to him, laugh with him and sometimes even chat with him during the lesson. Joshi can very well do that too,” Ute Winterberg, director of the Pusteblume-Grundschule in Berlin, told Reuters.
Joshua cannot attend class because he has a tube in his neck due to severe lung disease, his mother, Simone Martinangeli, said.
The project is a private initiative funded by the city council of Berlin’s Marzahn-Hellersdorf district.
“We are the only district in Berlin to have purchased four avatars for its schools. The impetus was COVID-19, but I think it will be the future well beyond the pandemic,” the district school counselor said. , Torsten Kuehne.
“From time to time, for various reasons, a child cannot attend class in person. Then the avatar can give that child a chance to stay in the school community,” Kuehne said.
He added that he had previously raised the project in state-level political discussions.
“I love him anyway because I love the avatar,” student Noah Kuessner said when asked if he can’t wait to see Joshua again.
“And I would prefer that Joshi could really come to school,” said another classmate, Beritan Aslanglu.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
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