The robot that ensures no empty seats

Karen Dolva

Karen Dolva, cofounder and CEO of No Isolation, was born in Norway. She studied Computer Science and Interaction Design at the University of Oslo, a leading institution in the field of education and research. Karen was began to research how technology could be used to support children with debilitating illnesses in the summer of 2015, after meeting Anne Fi Troye, a mother who had lost her teenage daughter to cancer in 2005.

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As we approach towards the new school year, the ongoing issue of loneliness is often far from our minds. Parents rush around buying their children new pencil cases, school bags and various other essentials for the first day back. Students are busy getting excited about seeing their friends again and sharing the adventures and experiences they had over summer. It is an exciting time of year for all. Or nearly all.

Sadly, some children do not have the opportunity to go back to school in September. In the UK alone, 72,000 children have a long-term or chronic illness, which prevents them from attending school. Put simply, in every eighth classroom, there is a desk left empty every single year.

Social isolation can be extremely damaging to a child’s development and learning. Of course, missing out on lessons and class time with a teacher can cause a significant disadvantage in the child’s progress and education, but on top of that, not being surrounded by friends is equally damaging.

Our ability to develop relationships, improve social skills and discover our own sense of self occurs in those fundamental years, preparing us for later life. Being absent from school for prolonged amounts of time has an impact on these skills, leaving the child feeling like they are missing out. This isolation and confusion then makes it significantly harder for them to reintegrate back into school life once they have recovered from their illness.

Knowing this has led us here at No Isolation to conducting extensive research into long-term child illness and the social implications that it has. We wanted to create a solution that would not only work, but would also offer a seamless integration into the classroom, accepted by teachers and other classmates alike.


This is where AV1 comes into play. AV1 is a telepresence robot, designed to be a student’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom when they cannot be there themselves. The child controls the robot from their tablet or phone, and can partake in their daily school life - whether that’s studying hard or laughing with their friends.

AV1 provides a one-way encrypted video stream, meaning the child can see what is happening, but doesn’t have to be on a screen when they are ill. Best of all, AV1 bridges the social gap, meaning that when the child feels better, they feel more comfortable in going back to school, as they’ve not missed out on what has been going on.

This year, we want to make sure that there are fewer empty desks than ever before. We want to make sure that there isn’t a child out there who feels that they can’t be excited about going back to school because of their health. Through our technology, we want to make sure that missing out on lessons and lunches with friends isn’t something that the child has to worry about, on top of everything else that comes with the difficulties of being unwell. AV1 can do just that.

Make sure that no child misses a lesson in your school. Find out more AV1 at, or get in touch on / 020 3695 9242 to speak with the team.

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