Can Autism Glass Help Speech and Language Pathologists?

by VocoVision on May 20, 2016

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Google GlassMost people are aware of Google Glass, even if their impression of it is that of a novelty tech item. Earlier this year, it made news again by breaking. Not literally, of course, rather it was pulled and support was going away. After that, a few interesting things happened. Project Aura became the next wave of wearable technology from Google. The company intends to collaborate with others in the tech field and improve the Glass technology. Then in April, Google Glass took on autism, and Autism Glass became a reality.

How it Works

Catalin Voss, the Stanford University graduate student who created Autism Glass, developed emotion-recognition software that tells an autistic individual wearing Google Glass if the person they are viewing looks sad, angry, or happy. The original software Voss developed identified whether a person was smiling, smirking, or frowning by measuring the position of the mouth and eyes. He later created software that was able to measure an individual’s level of engagement in a conversation. Similar software was integrated into a smartphone app that uses data provided by Google Glass being worn by the subject. Initial studies indicate participants are willing to wear the device and engage with it in a meaningful way. Voss hopes to eventually develop the technology further in order to track the faces of multiple people at a time and gauge anxiety levels.

Therapeutic Possibilities

Behavior focused therapy, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), have been the most successful in helping individuals with autism learn to interact with those around them. This is done in part by using flash cards to help patients identify concepts, emotions, and actions. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough individual therapists available to work with each person on the spectrum. Recent statistics show as many as 1 in 68 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism, which means the demand for therapy will continue to increase. Autism Glass has the potential to offer real time feedback to people about what those around them are feeling. Being able to access the nonverbal societal clues may make it easier for patients to identify the behavior on their own eventually.

The Future

While Autism Glass has earned much of the recent media attention, other companies are developing similar concepts. Brain Power is marketed as a wearable classroom. The company has created more than a dozen apps that help individuals with autism learn life skills, decode emotions, improve language skills, and modify behavior.

One of the reasons wearables like Google Glass, and future iterations, are so exciting is because they encourage people to interact with other people rather than just their device. While apps have greatly enhanced the lives of individuals with autism, they are limited in their ability to encourage human interaction. This is a gap a wearable like Autism Glass bridges nicely. Instead of a patient looking at a tablet, they could engage directly with their therapist, teacher, family, and friends.

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