Cool robot from Lyon connecting kids with football stars
Jérémie does not take his mobile phone away from the ear. Once it’s his Awabot business partner, once Eric Abidal is calling. We are inside the 59-thousand, ultra-modern Olympique Lyon Park stadium.Next to Jérémie, stands a one-meter robot. Soon both will join Abidal during the Olympique de Marseille warm-up before the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid. The remotely controlled BEAM robot will guided by a sick child stuck to a hospital bed.
Football, new technologies, dreams …
Jérémie looks excited. “These young kids do not stopped smiling. It is so magical for them to be able to do it, we can do it. They truly love it, “Jérémie Koessler says. Before we asked him about the technical details of the robot, the pros and cons of its functioning, we had to solve with Jeremie one key question: “What does their robot do that a laptop with Skype enabled cannot do?”. We heard: “This is the first question everyone is asking me,” Jeremie laughs. “A computer with videoconferencing switched on will not give you what our BEAM robot does. It is completely mobile, can move around the office, building, be in constant interaction between the sender and the recipient. Mobility plus interaction – these are our differential points, “Koessler claims.
“I like the things around me to be beautiful & slightly dreamy, with a feeling of worldliness.”
Awabot is a Lyon-based startup founded in 2017.In turn, the robot operates under the American license of BEAM and costs today around 15,000 euros. It actually works child’s play. All you need is a good, fast wi-fi network, or 4G zone, and a person on the other side of the screen, who controls the robot with keyboard arrows of a PC keyboard through the web service online. The robot has two cameras to ensure a more complete view and has seven microphones inside that can mute surrounding sounds.
Interaction and movement are the most important things are the. Therefore, as much as 60% of today’s Avabot business is video conferences, 30% – education and 10% other sectors like industry, health / social, or culture. The latter includes football in a charity issue. Jeremie began piloting walks at the OGC Nice Stadium, then he started a close cooperation with Olympique Lyonnais. They finally acquired the BEAM robot into ownership. They branded it with club’s logo and colors and started to use within the OL Foundation’s activities. “Today, the club uses the robot before and during each match at its stadium. The interaction of sick children with footballers and club employees begins with a warm-up. In the break thanks to the fast wi-fi at the stadium, the robot can enter the vip box to meet well-known French celebrities– actors or musicians who are OL fans, “says Koessler.
During home matches, the OL robot, fell into the eye to former club player, the French legend Erik Abidal. He contacted Jeremie and came up with the idea of presenting the robot to the FC Barcelona Foundation (Eric had played in the Catalan club for 6 years and now became its new sports director). Thanks to this last year in Barcelona a dream came true for Pol, 13-year-old patient at Hospital de Sant Pau. Pol was able to see and speak to Abidal as he was guided around the Camp Nou Experience, interviewed in the Ricard Maxenchs pressroom and finally went out for a run on the Camp Nou field. And he was able to do that all thanks to a robot that he was able to remote control from his bed. Sadly, just a few days later, Pol died of the illness that he was suffering.
This was the first pilot test of a new social innovation project developed by the FC Barcelona Foundation for children aged up to 18 years that are suffering from serious illnesses and are confined to a hospital bed and unable to visit places like the Camp Nou. After this pilot experience, the Barça Foundation acquired a BEAM robot and called it “Pol” in memory of the little boy who helped to test the new experience.The partnership with Awabot will create new virtual experiences using remote controlled robot.
Although Awabot uses football, or other popular Frech sports (like basketball and rugby), only for promotion thanks to charitable actions, the startup wants to open up to new markets and opportunities. Coming soon, the robot camera will be upgraded from 3x zoom camera up to 20x. The screen will also change – from 17 inches up to 24. “We are not afraid of competition. In the US is the main producer of BEAM, in Denmark and the Middle East there are similar companies, but they focus on the sale of the robot itself, not on its subsequent service and delivery of new services and impressions – says Jeremie. And he immediately adds that the new sector in which they see big opportunities for their robot is real estate business.
Jeremie politely apologizes, but Abidal is calling him. It’s time to take the robot through the tunnel with the OM players and connect with the sick child in the hospital. Another unforgettable experience.
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