According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 68 children are autistic, a 30% increase in just the past three and a half years. While there is some debate about the actual numbers, there is no argument that more technological advancements need to be made to help children and families suffering from autism.
Enter one brilliant student at Stanford, Caitlin Voss and equally brilliant researcher Nick Haber. Together, they created facial recognition software to help autistic children process what emotions others in the room are experiencing. They believe this may help the child better cope and interact with the world around them. The software is specifically designed to operate on Google Glass.
The topic hits close to home for Voss, who spoke with the Associated Press and explained the motivation for her creation.
“We had the idea of basically creating a behavioral aide that would recognize the expressions and faces for you and then give you social cues according to those” said Voss, who was inspired by a cousin who has autism.
The tech behemoth Google caused a big stir when it introduced Google Glass back on April 4th, 2012.
The internet both marveled at the innovation and simultaneously predicted its inevitable devolution into porn (which of course, happened). But it failed as a viable commercial product – partially because of the creep factor, partially because of the price factor. Yes, $1500 is a lot of cash to drop just to put your stalker status into question. Google stopped selling Glass in January 2015 but vowed to find other uses for the product.
Looks like they weren’t just blowing smoke – the AP reported today that Google Glass is being used in a pretty cool way to help children with autism. Ten year old Julian Brown is one of the approximately 100 autistic children currently using this version of Google Glass as part of a study.
“There’s not a machine that can read your mind, but this helps with the emotions, you know, recognizing them,” Julian said.
Julian’s mom is a big fan of the invention so far.
“It has helped our son who’s using the Google Glasses connect with the family more,” said Kristen Brown, Julian’s mother. “I think the glasses are a positive way to encourage a kid to look someone else in the face.”
If the study yields positive results, these glasses will hit the commercial market. Since researchers are already seeing very positive signs, it’s a safe bet you’ll be seeing lots more kids wearing glasses in the next 12-24 months.