Roughly 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States — a rate that’s grown by 15% over the past two years, Science Daily reports. And, now, researchers at Stanford University Medical School have updated Google Glass technology in order to help this growing number of affected children. Google Glass, previously a commercial flop, is now Superpower Glass, a new smartphone app and device, complete with facial recognition technology. It’s helping young children with ASD better read emotions and facial expressions — a common difficulty caused by the condition.
Technology to discern emotions
Having a child diagnosed with autism is often emotionally overwhelming for parents. It’s important to build a support network for both you and your child, which includes family, school, and social care. It’s also important to research the condition to find out how you can best support your child. Fortunately, Google’s Superpower Glass is set to help both parents and children with ASD thrive.
71 patients with ASD between the ages of 6 and 12 were given Superpower Glass devices in a recent study. The devices connect wirelessly to an Android smartphone app complete with facial recognition software able to identify a wide range of emotions, including happiness, fear, surprise, sadness, anger, boredom, and neutrality. Using an eye-level camera, Superpower Glass can recognize faces and display emojis representing the emotion. The emoji is displayed on the right-side of the wearer’s peripheral vision.
Effective at-home treatment
“Children treated at home with the wearable intervention showed a significant improvement in socialization over children only receiving standard of care behavioral therapy,” a study, published in JAMA Pediatrics explains. “The mobile intervention, which teaches the recognition and relevance of emotion in the child’s natural setting, can augment standard of care therapy to achieve higher socialization in children with autism spectrum disorder.” In the study, Superpower Glass was used as part of standard ASD treatment. One task, “capture the smile”, for example, asked the child to identify the emotion displayed by a family member like laughter after hearing a joke. Superpower Glass can successfully help children with ASD better recognize and identify the emotions they see.
The future of Google’s Superpower Glass looks promising. Just recently, the research group and a commercial partner were granted “breakthrough device designation” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means they’re working toward making the device widely available and covered by medical insurance.