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Stanford Using Google Glass to Help Autistic Children #WearableWednesday


I remember reading something a while back about algorithms for face tracking with Google Glass, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see this Autism Glass Project. A group at Stanford University is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop a learning device that can be used in the home, according to TechCrunch. The hope is to teach autistic children how to recognize face gestures and match them to the appropriate emotion. Catalin Voss, founder of the project, describes these face gestures as “action units”. Imagine viewing someone’s face through Google Glass as they walk towards you. A small window in the corner would give a text readout of the emotion being viewed. The software also allows for measuring the amount and type of eye contact, which can lead to an ideal intervention for the child. This is critical since autism spectrum disorder can vary considerably from person to person.The goal here is really education, and Nick Haber, project co-founder, brings the point home, “We didn’t want this to be a prosthesis”.

The project is now rolling into a 100 person clinical trial where children will be required to wear a Glass for twenty minutes each day. Researchers will be looking at the progression over a 4 month time period and hope to have a better understanding of what children are viewing and how they are learning. It’s actually more fun than it looks thanks to gamification developed by MIT. Children play “Capture the Smile” where they seek a specific emotion on people’s faces.


Stanford isn’t the only one developing this idea. MIT also gets a mention along with Harvard for a similar Google Glass project called Empowered Brain by Brain Power. In the meantime, Google is tweaking it’s next version of Glass. I clearly remember my friends playing with the first version, and most of their kicks came from recording life events in video and checking email. So, it’s exciting to see this technology get a better workout for a cause that has many people mystified. There’s definitely room for more collaborators because it will take a village to understand this disorder. For those of you who already own a Glass, did you know you can use your own prescription glasses? Just visit our learning guide on 3D Printed Google Glass Adapter. It’s cheaper than a pair of Google glasses and you’ll feel good for being all DIY.

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