Google Glass helps kids with autism read facial expressions


[Music] We’re in Corning, California. It’s a small town. That’s what we like about it. We can see more things in larger cities but always come home to our smaller quieter town. Ethan’s main issues began with communication. He was not speaking at an early age. And our speech therapist informed us that we should probably get him evaluated, and he was, and he met the criteria for being on the spectrum. One of the biggest challenges for kids on the autism spectrum would be social interactions, forming their own social groups especially when they enter the school settings. I tell a lot of the parents that I speak to resources aren’t going to come to you you have to go out to them. I like to watch a couple news shows in the afternoons and one day the Autism Glass Project came up and within a week I was traveling to Stanford to meet with them and start the project. Autism is a condition that impacts social interaction, communication, language and range of interests. It creates a spiral of isolation that prevents learning in a lot of different ways. The detection and treatment of autism are both bottlenecked by current standards of practice in terms of getting access to those two things. So for us it’s been a real motivator to figure out how can we circumnavigate some of the healthcare complexities of getting access to care in ways that mobilize and can scale. And so that has led us to mobile solutions to try and capitalize on ubiquitous devices like smartphones and wearables that can be used in a home setting by parents without the actual input or intervention by a trained clinician. A wearable that we’ve gravitated to is the Google Glass units which have a peripheral monitor and act through a form factor of augmented reality. So it doesn’t take the child out of their natural environment. It leaves them in it, provides them with this augmented understanding of what’s going on, a cue that cues them into the faces and cues them into what the faces are telling them. If other people are feeling different things I could tell what emotion that they’re feeling which is kind of fantastic. For the younger kids with a higher level of developmental impairment it’s the first time that they’re seeing what they thought was going on in the face is actually what’s going on in the face. I think mommy’s happy and this thing is telling me she’s happy so I can totally tell what’s going on in her brain. And what we’ve learned through this intervention is that children begin to appreciate that there’s something interesting in faces first and foremost and then also they gain confidence in knowing that they understand what the faces are actually telling them. That tuning in to the social part of their world is such an important part of their developmental trajectory which enables many things to happen down the road. After he used those glasses he was pretty much focusing on looking at people’s eyes. I mean he still has some distractions but still he is able more to read more their — what they’re trying to say. It has helped Ethan to become more student like. Overall he’s made great progress in playing with other kids, his social skills, being able to verbalize how he’s feeling and being able to be more in the environment instead of away from the environment. As social beings we learn through social behaviors, curiosity, investigations, communications. They don’t have to be verbal. Think of a baby crawling through its social world. It’s learning dramatically faster than it would if it wasn’t doing that. Children with autism are not exploring their worlds like that and so they have to be told you have to explore your world like that and here’s how you do it. And once they’re taught that, the world changes and they grow dramatically faster on their own. I feel like socially he made huge improvements and now we want to shift that to get him to find his learning method so that he can find something that he’s really into and kind of dive into and hopefully someday go to college, Stanford preferably. He’s a boy that cares so much. I’m not sure I can predict it but I can tell you that it will be a great future for him. He’s a boy that would not stop from learning. He will do awesome.

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