Stanford researchers hope to treat autism with Google Glass

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

Stanford, Calif. — A team of researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine’s Wall Lab led by Nick Haber and Catalin Voss are working on an ambitious project — treating autism with the use of Google Glass.

The project, called ‘The Autism Glass Project,’ will help children with autism recognize facial expressions of people surrounding them — through the help of a software that uses face-tracking technology, as well as machine learning.

The researchers consider the project a treatment rather than a ‘prosthesis’, and they are optimistic that the children’s consistent three 20-minute use of the Google Glass each day will yield favorable results.

The project’s first phase began last year and involved 40 studies, 35 Google Glasses, and a $379,408 donation courtesy of the Packard Foundation.

The researchers hope to investigate the project’s viability as a treatment through the project’s second phase, which started Monday. This phase involves a 100-child study, and children will be observed as they interact with their surroundings using the Google glasses.

The children will also be tasked to play a game called “Capture the Smile” using the glasses— and results from their performances on the game will be monitored and combined with video analysis, as well as the results from questionnaires filled up by parents. The data gathered from the combined analyses will help researchers come up with a ‘quantitative phenotype’ of each child’s autism.

The current phase of ‘The Autism Glass’ project is expected to go on for several years, and the researchers say this phase is only the first step for the team. The team expects that a lot of hard work is still needed before the device can be validated for widespread clinical use.

Although it’s still on its research stage, ‘The Autism Glass’ project has already been featured in Alexei Bradley’s second book on the “Trueman Bradley” series, wherein a pair of glasses that help ‘see’ emotions was given to the book’s protagonist.

The research team’s Catalin Voss told:

“If you think about it… What we’re doing is giving children with autism superpowers.”

Source: Nitish Kulkarni in TechCrunch Stanford Researchers Treat Autism With Google Glass

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About Althea Violeta

Althea is a journalist from the Philippines. She has been writing articles, journals, reviews, and Op-Eds for nearly two decades. She is also a contributor for Poptard Magazine.