Trial To Examine Google Glass As Autism Treatment

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Google Glass could soon be used a tool to help children with autism spectrum disorder as a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University is under way

Catalin Voss, Dennis Wall, PhD and Nick Haber, PhD, are working together to see if an app for Google Glass created by Voss, which can tell if the person you are looking at, by recognizing facial expressions is happy, sad, etc., can work with kids who have autism.

While the trio has tested the software in a lab with 40 children, they are beginning a clinical trial with nearly 100 kids at home.

“First, we had to make sure that a six-year-old would actually wear this,” Wall told Wired. “We’ve been able to show that. But we’ve also been able to see change in these kids, at least in the lab.” He added that the software also records what the child does while wearing Google Glass which a clinician can review.

Wall is also working on diagnosing autism at an earlier age using machine learning algorithms to analyze data on the behavior of autistic kids to look for the signals of the disorder.

The Stanford project is not the first to look at the potential of Google Glass in treating autism. Brain Power, a tech startup in Cambridge, Mass., is developing applications to be used with Google Glass as an autism therapy.

Trial To Examine Google Glass As Autism Treatment
App being test by researchers recognizes facial expression and helps kids with autism determine what person they are looking at is feeling.

In his first year at Stanford, Catalin Voss helped build an app for Google Glass that could recognize emotions. If you put on Google's computerized eyewear and looked at others in front of you, the software could tell you — based on their facial expressions — if they were happy, sad, surprised, or disgusted.

But at Stanford, Voss has bigger ambitions. He's now working with Dennis Wall, a professor in the university's school of medicine, to hone this technology into something useful for children diagnosed with autism. This was one of Voss's original aims when he built Sension, but that didn't fit the broader prospects of the business. So he spun off the idea as a project inside the medical school.

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