The wearable device Google Glass that made headlines in 2015 but failed in the consumer technology space – has now rekindled hopes of millions of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) globally, including in India.
Although no official numbers are available, at least 70 million people have autism worldwide, including over 10 million in India.
According to Dr Ned Sahin, Founder and CEO of Brain Power, a US-based science-driven company, Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency.
There is no cure for autism but early diagnosis and intervention with therapies does improve the long-term outcome.
“We need help. We need families and schools to support the first wave of technology for autism and special school communities.
“I am open to collaboration if there is an interest from schools, organisations and families from India. We can customise our Google Glass-based applications for autistic people in India,” Dr Sahin told media persons.
Brain Power is currently working with several schools in the US. The “Empower Me” wearable system has been used by hundreds of children and adults on the autism spectrum.
In this technology, the child or adult wears light, computerised Glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation – like digital coaching on facial expressions of emotions, when to look at people, feedback on the user’s own state of stress or anxiety.
“The apps also encourage them to make eye contact and control repetitive behaviours – both of which are big challenges related to autism,” said Dr Sahin, a famed neuroscientist who studied at Harvard and MIT.
According to Dr Sahin, contrary to what most of the people think, kids actually treat wearable devices as fun and are facing no problem using them.
“We have discovered scientifically that people with autism enjoy using wearable devices and embedded software for socio-emotional learning,” Dr Sahin told.
Each software module connects to Brain Power’s Cloud-hosted portal where Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms produce insights and predictions in real time.
The game-like apps collect numerical behavioural data – scientifically and rigorously – and present the child, family, school or clinic with insights and answers they can readily understand.