A few weeks ago, a dream came true for Pol, a 13-year-old patient at Hospital de Sant Pau, when he was able to visit the Camp Nou and the Barça Museu in the company of former FC Barcelona player Eric Abidal. 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.
Pol was able to see and even speak to Abidal as he was guided around the Camp Nou Experience, was interviewed in the Ricard Maxenchs pressroom and even went out for a run on the famous field. It was chance for him to dream once again of life outside hospital, albeit only virtually, and to enjoy a unique experience at such a difficult moment of his life.
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.
The robot “Pol” project
After this pilot experience, the Foundation is to develop this innovative project further, in partnership with technology firm AWABOT, to create such virtual encounters using remote controlled robots that the child operates using a camera, an internet connection and a keyboard. The robot has two cameras to ensure a more complete view and has seven microphones inside that can mute surrounding sounds. This action is part of the new strategic axis of the Foundation for social innovation and the generation of thought.
The Foundation has called this robot “Pol” in memory of the little boy who helped to test the new experience that will do so much good for the emotional wellbeing of sick children.
Statement from Jordi Cardoner, vice-president of FC Barcelona and the FC Barcelona Foundation:
“This is without a doubt one of the Foundation’s best programmes because it creates moments of wonder and joy for boys and girls in hospital who cannot something so simple as a visit to the Camp Nou and the Barça museum. We know that such enjoyment contributes to emotional wellbeing and improves the condition of these children and their families, which is why we think it is so important to carry out actions like this that use new technologies for social purposes”.
Statement from Eric Abidal, former FC Barcelona player:
“The idea came up after watching a report on TV about Olympique Lyon and a hospital where children in hospital could come via this robot. I contacted them and then the club to see if they were interested in this idea, and it proved a success for us and for Pol”
Statement from Jérémie Koessler, representative of the AWABOT company:
“Today the young boy has not stopped smiling. It is magical for him to enjoy a moment like this from hospital, where he cannot be with us or meet any players, but this way we made it possible. Pol loved it”