Google Glass App Works as Communication Assistant for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Researchers at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto are developing a Google Glass app to help children with disabilities socialize and communicate. Communication for children on the autism spectrum can often-times be challenging, and many children are drawn to technology at an early age. The software, still in prototype phase, can be used with a Google Glass headset to increase communication and comfort with social interactions.

The app, can help the user identify conversation prompts and suggest appropriate responses. One of the main goals of Azadeh Kushki, Assistant Professor at the Institute and Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute, was not to promote social isolation with the software but rather promote social integration. Speaking of the app, he said, “We developed software for a wearable system that helps coach children with autism in everyday social interactions. In this study, we show that children are able to use this new technology and they enjoy interacting with it.”

The app has been used with 15 children along the spectrum, and the team consistently found that children could follow the prompts and carry a more fluid and comfortable conversation. Professor Kuski wrote, “The interesting thing about our new technology is that we are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations. Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions, and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions.”

The team will continue to work on finalizing the app and customizing it to the unique need of each child. Professor Kushki is hopeful the app could help children on the spectrum in a variety of environments, such as home and school, as well as act as a therapeutic aid. [Source: Global Accessibility News]


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