Google Glass as we all know has joined the ranks of once-promising gadgets which failed to build a reputation among the consumers. After everyone has written it off, the ill-fated pair of glasses might have finally found its ideal use case. Yes, Google Glasses are now helping kids with autism in social situations.
"Google Glass is a lightweight, unobtrusive, augmented reality wearable device that is ideal for use with individuals who have often have sensory sensitivities," Dennis Wall, an associate professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Biomedical Data Sciences at Stanford Medical School, told Digital Trends. "It is adjustable and can fit on children as young as three years of age. Many other smart glasses available today are heavy or bulky, and therefore are not practical for use with children."
What's more ironic is that much of the negative press around the Google Glass revolved around the concerns that the camera can be used for more nefarious purposes, such as facial recognition. Well, that's exactly what the Stanford researchers have used. But, instead of attempting to identify people, the focus is on notifying the wearers of the expression displayed by the people they are interacting with. This is actually an area where people with autism face a lot of difficulties.
Dubbed Superpower Glass, the software isn't meant to be used for all social situations, but rather as a training tool. It also has a dedicated app that allows users to match up emojis to acted-out emotions on the part of the parent.
"We have completed two preliminary studies with over 60 children," Wall continued. "So far, we have demonstrated that Superpower Glass is comfortable and appropriate for use with children as young as three years of age and across the entire autism spectrum. In a longitudinal trial where 14 families used the device for several weeks at home, all children experienced a decrease in autism severity, and most parents reported an increase in eye contact after the study. Although this study did not include a control group for comparison, we have also completed a randomized controlled trial on over 70 additional children to further test the therapeutic impact of the system."