An app that uses Google Glass technology has shown promise helping autistic children interpret the emotions of others. Researchers hope their new software will soon be a standard therapy in the treatment of this increasingly common developmental disorder.
Stanford University scientists tested their app with a group of 14 kids between the ages of three and 17. All of the children that participated in this study were formally diagnosed with autism by a pediatrician.
Study participants were asked to wear the Google Glass and use the emotion-training app on a regular basis. The trial period lasted for three months.
While wearing the Google Glass, children could see different animated figures representing emotions such as happiness, sadness, and anger. The app allows Google Glass to interpret the tone of voice and facial features of people around the wearer. With this data, the Google Glass suggests what emotion the person close to the wearer is experiencing.
Study authors saw a great improvement in the autistic patients’ emotional well-being only one month after using the app. Parents of the study participants also said their children had better social skills and were more likely to make eye contact with others.
Stanford researchers are now making tweaks to their app software using the data from this trial. They hope to perform another test of this Google Glass app in the near future.
Dr. Dennis P. Wall, who works as an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford, was the lead investigator on this study. A few other key authors involved in this research include Drs. Jena Daniels, Jessey N. Schwartz, and Catalin Voss.
People who are interested in learning more about this study should pick up the latest copy of npj Digital Medicine. Authors entitled their work, “Exploratory study examining the at-home feasibility of a wearable tool for social-affective learning in children with autism.”
Professors involved in this research have also created an online portal called the Autism Glass Project. Anyone can learn more about their research by visiting the website http://autismglass.stanford.edu/.