Autism Speaks Hackathon Inspires Groundbreaking New App

Autism Speaks and AT&T hosted an app idea submission contest earlier this year to crowdsource the most empowering and helpful app ideas for the autism community. Lois Brady attended the hackathon event and says she was inspired by the number of engineers, developers and techies that came together for a good cause.  Brady is a Speech Language Pathologist, Author and Assistive Technology Specialist. Following the hackathon Brady began working on a communication app for the iPad.  Inner Voice is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app that Brady says is unique from the other AAC apps out there for two reasons.

Animated Avatars

Inner Voice uses Video Self-Modeling (VSM) which lets a user take a photo of themselves that is then animated to speak any selected words. "VSM is a highly effective approach for children who are visual learners and have challenges focusing on live models. The idea is that the individual sees him/herself communicating successfully and can then imitate that behavior," says Brady. The hope is that users will imitate the behavior of their animated selves thus encouraging communication.

Remote Prompting

For some users, errors or wrong answers can be especially frustrating. Remote Prompting lets a user get over a hurdle seemingly on their own, without physical intervention from a parent, teacher or therapist. "With InnerVoice, prompts are sent via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from the educator’s device to the user’s iPad, without saying a word, to ensure the child will perform the correct skill and reduce the probability of errors and frustration," says Brady.  By reducing what could be confusing verbal explanations and auditory overload, the hope is that a user's learning experience will be uninterupted and more successful.

Brady hopes that these innovations will raise the bar for AAC apps and inspire developers to fully utilize new technologies in future apps just like she was inspired by the hackathon. Inner Voice can be downloaded for iPhone and iPad via the Apple App Store and costs $19.99.

If you have the app, let us know what you think in the comments! Watch the trailer for the Inner Voice below.