virtual studentI was just watching Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith again earlier in the week, and loved the way the Jedi Council held their meetings with holographic representations of themselves. The real world does not have such advanced technology yet, but we are getting close with Zachary, a 12-year old boy who has been diagnosed with the rare X-linked myotubular myopathy disease which affected males only, preventing him from going to school. This has not stopped Zachary though, as he is now testing a specially designed robot that can be controlled using a computer in order to be at school.

Zachary’s mother, Thomason, said, “He is bed bound. He is tube fed. He is ventilator dependent. We lift him as if he were a newborn. He has very little muscle strength.” Despite that, Zachary has a real chipper attitude, being happy most of the time and loving to break out in a tune whenever and wherever. He, like most boys, also loves his computer and PlayStation, although his condition had prevented him from attending a class at school since the first grade.

With this VGO robot, things are going to change – it helps Zachary see and hear what’s going on in the classroom, not to mention being able to enable the virtual Zachary to be more mobile as he can then move around by controlling the VGO robot remotely. Zachary can also strike up conversations with other students if he wants to, opening up a whole new world of freedom and wonder to Zachary. My faith in humans have been restored.

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