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“Superpower Glass” Helping Kids With Autism Understand Emotions

via Smithsonian

People with autism often struggle with understanding what others are thinking or feeling. Decoding facial expressions can be especially tricky. Is that smile a genuine grin of delight, or a tight grimace of politeness? Does that wrinkled brow mean anger, or just concentration? When you can’t understand the messages on other people’s faces, it’s hard to engage socially. Children with autism are therefore often left out of the group interactions so critical to development.

Now, Stanford researchers say they have a possible new aid: Google Glass. They’ve combined the augmented reality glasses with an app that uses artificial intelligence to identify faces and facial expressions in a child’s field of vision, then shows the child an emoji of the correct expression.

“Children with autism unanimously struggle to engage their social world,” says Dennis Wall, a professor of pediatrics and biomedical data science at the Stanford University School of Medicine, who led the research. “They don’t make face contact, and they don’t really understand the emotional differences that are exhibited in the faces. These are the two primary deficits that a lot of the behavioral therapy focuses on today.”

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