Autism And Google Glass: Augmented Reality Headwear Teaches Autistic People To Read Social Cues & Emotions

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald September 23, 03:10 am

Different kinds of technology are being developed to help people with autism lead a better quality of life. Google Glass is one of those gadgets touted to help autistic kids read social cues and understand emotions -- things that can be challenging for people with the neurodevelopmental disorder.

Google Glass, a project launched on April 4, 2012, is an optical head-mounted display that utilizes an augmented reality technology, Mashable reports. Google Glass has been somewhat forgotten after the hype, but a research team from Stanford University is attempting to bring attention back to the gadget for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to Vice Media's Motherboard.

Reading and understanding facial expressions and emotions are hard for people with autism. This difficulty affects autistic people's ability to form and maintain relationships and friendships. This is a challenge for them even at school, at the workplace, and in other areas of their lives.

The researchers from Stanford University called the project as Autism Glass. In their adaptation, Google Glass' camera, which faces outward, records the actions and facial expressions of the person you're talking or interacting with. After gathering information, the device directs it into the Autism Glass app on an Android device it is synced to.

After receiving the data, the artificial intelligence embedded into the Autism Glass app will read the movements and expressions and catalogue them based on the human emotions such as happy, angry, interested, and disgusted, among others. A colorful emoji will be projected back to the glass within short moments, and the wearer will see the emotional cue via a small screen on the upper right corner of the glass.

The team will also bring Autism Glass to the iPhone but for now, they want to use the Google platform for the testing and development stages. The video will be recorded and saved on the Android device so the autistic wearer's family and medical caregivers can evaluate the interactions later.

Developed for two years, Autism Glass has been tested on more than 100 children with autism and was given to 24 families for in-home trials, CNBC reports. The Autism Glass team plans to apply the technology into lower profile methods such as contact lenses, regular glasses, pinhole cameras, and hopefully, an audio-only interface.

A virtual reality game, meanwhile, is helping people with autism learn how to drive safely in the real world. Nilanjan Sarkar, a computer and mechanical engineer at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, developed a virtual reality driving simulation that features a stoplight, a steering wheel to navigate roads, and pedestrians crossing streets, Parent Herald previously reported.

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