Scientist and CEO of Brain Power, Ned Sahin, will being beta testing his Google Glass apps for kids with autism in early 2015. His apps, which aim to teach those with autism how to interact with others, improve their eye contact and read social cues, have already drawn the attention of dignitaries from around the world at the Seventh Annual World Focus on Autism.
For example, one app shows icons of faces corresponding to what a child sees through the glass, a virtual "assist" for facial cues. A smiling mother would trigger an icon of a smiling face, helping the child remember the expression and associate it with happiness. Another app gamifies this experience by providing two icons in the glass, and asks the child to choose the correct icon that corresponds to the person's facial expression. The child earns points for correct responses and continues to engage.
“I wanted to do something that would impact people in their daily lives,” Sahin told CBS Boston. “There was a huge unmet need here. It was staggering when I realized how little progress we’ve made in autism…Parents tell me, ‘I just wish my child could look me in the eye. I wish my child could understand what I’m thinking…what I’m feeling.’ And we’re giving them that.”
Sahin spotlighted the importance of transforming “wearables,” such as Google Glass, into assistive devices for individuals with autism at the World Focus conference in September.
“Through technology, we can rewrite the future of autism and bring hope to families around the world,” said Dr. Sahin. “We need intervention. It’s not enough just to measure. We need to help children get beyond the challenges and learn to be self-sufficient.” Distinguished guests at the event were wearing Google Glass throughout the event and their photos were displayed on screen.
According to CBS, Brain Power is currently working to patent its apps. It hopes to roll them out in the next year to 18 months.