Technology for those with Special Needs: Google Glass and Autism
Once we think we’ve seen it all, Google strikes again. This time Google hits home not only with a jaw-dropping technology innovation, but with a heartwarming advancement in technology for those with special needs.
Check out the feel good study that is being conducted to improve the lives of Autistic children and see, really see, just how far we have come when it comes to wearables in technology and increasing the quality of life for those with special needs.
A dedicated team of researchers from Stanford University have been working diligently to make strides in technology for those with special needs.
Stanford has teamed up with Google, and Google Glass, to conduct research and trials that will assist autistic children by giving them the eyes to recognize facial expressions and therefore emotions (a characteristic of Autism that can make or break an entire day for an Autistic child).
Research and findings of this study can be traced back to the Wall Lab at Stanford University’s School of Medicine where Nick Haber and Catalin Voss began their mission, “to pair face-tracking technology with machine learning in order to build at-home treatments for Autism.”
When the project first began, the researchers had possession of only one Google Glass device. In that initial phase, software testing consisted of 40 children within the Wall Lab. Since then, Google has donated thirty-five more Google Glass devices in order to further assist the project.
Phase two, which has only recently begun, will include 100 children using the software at their own homes, with the help of parents operating and monitoring the technology.
The participants of this phase will be made up of 80 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in addition to 20 typically developing participants. This portion of the study will include children ages 6-16 and is planned to take place over the course of 4 months.
Other than ensuring effectiveness, the design team is also working to ensure that the device will continue to enhance learning, even when the children are no longer using the device.
Project Co-founder, Haber, informs us that they didn’t want the device to be a ”prosthesis.”
This “interactive learning” experience can be compared to or explained as a game, especially to children. Here is how it works. According to Voss, ‘’Through Google Glass eye wear, children are asked to, say, find someone who is happy. When they look at someone who is smiling, the app recognizes this and awards “points:
The team at Stanford refers to the device as “a wearable behavioral aid,” and it truly is. Although there is no current cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, this research and potential solution to emotion recognition can lead us in the right direction and possibly change the lives of many in the future.
Thanks Google, and thank you Stanford!
Technology for those with special needs will never be the same!