This paper investigates how avatar robots are being introduced into educational settings to assist children unable to attend school due to illness or disabilities. By addressing shortcomings in traditional educational methods such as hospital schools or home tuition, avatars aim to sustain social connections and academic progression for absent students. Qualitative case studies in Germany and Japan, focusing on AV1 and OriHime avatars respectively, reveal shared challenges in ensuring fair access and seamless integration into school environments. While Germany emphasises temporary use for illness, Japan extends applications to broader disabilities. The study suggests supportive policies, guidelines, and training should be used to maximise the educational and social benefits of avatar technologies.

The paper concludes that avatar technologies such as AV1 Robots offer potential for enriching educational opportunities. Factors that currently limit their widespread adoption include  technical issues, financial limitations of purchasing organisations, and the need for comprehensive school training. Effective implementation demands proactive policy measures and culturally sensitive approaches to optimise their impact across varied educational landscapes.

Key findings: 

  •  By November 2022, 279 AV1 avatars were used in German schools, funded mainly through non-profit organisations, enabling ill students to stay connected with their classrooms.
  • The implementation of OriHime robots at Japanese schools, initiated in 2015, helps hospitalised children transition smoothly back to their former schools.
  • Avatar technologies in Germany and Japan support hospitalised children’s education and social participation, benefiting students' psychosocial stability and reintegration. 


Spoden C and Ema A (2024) Staying connected: implementing avatar robots at schools in Germany and Japan. Front. Digit. Health 6:1273415. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2024.1273415. Link to the article: