The VGo Goes Where Everyone Goes: Schools, Hospitals, and Homes

VGoJuly 28, 2012 | By: Monika Wahi | BOSTON, MA | Attendees of the The World Congress Leadership Summit on Telemedicine at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston July 26-27 were intrigued to watch the VGo, a robot with specialized capabilities to interact intimately with people, tooling around the exhibitor area. Ned Semonite, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at VGo Communications in Nashua, NH was at the helm, navigating the VGo to interested attendees, and demonstrating how VGo can help a clinician see a patient remotely.

The VGo is equipped with two important capabilities: a small screen on which the person controlling the VGo can project his or her face, and a small camera that can be directed and controlled remotely via a laptop console. Semonite demonstrated the robot approaching an attendee, with his face on the screen interacting with her and asking about the hypothetical rash on her arm. When she raised her arm, he then directed the camera so that it zoomed in on the imaginary rash.

It is actually very easy to control,” Semonite explained as he deftly navigated the VGo between tables and chairs. His laptop controller appeared much like the view in Quake II, where the person controlling has what is termed as “first-person shooter” point-of-view. An ironic term, given what the VGo has been used for so far - both inside and outside of health care.

Although the primary promotion of the VGo at the conference was its telemedicine applications, Semonite described many ways the VGo has been used:

  • A homebound girl with a severe allergry uses her VGo to “go to school” for her. She navigates the VGo between classes with her friends, and is able to have a closer-to-life experience socially as well as intellectually at school.
  • This month, the Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire announced their agreement to deploy VGo in client’s homes.
  • The Oregon Health and Science University tested VGo’s acceptance in the homes of healthy elders. Described by the Portland Business Journal as “Skype on wheels”, the older individuals loved having the VGo in their homes. They enjoyed having “visitors” by way of the VGo.
  • A hospital in California is using the VGo to allow relatives to remotely visit very sick patients who cannot receive visitors.

To view the whole article and watch the video, click here.