By Erin Digitale
Many children with autism struggle to form friendships, in part because they have difficulty with social skills such as recognizing facial expressions. A research team at the Stanford School of Medicine is using Google Glass to help.
As KQED’s “Future of You” blog recently explained, a group of scientists at the Autism Glass Project, led by Dennis Wall PhD, have built facial-recognition software for Google Glass to help children distinguish between seven different types of facial expressions. Wall’s pilot study, in which kids with autism used Google Glass to help identify expressions in images shown on a computer screen, gave promising results. In the next phase of the research, which is still looking for volunteers, the team is testing whether Google Glass helps kids recognize others’ emotions during real-world interactions:
"Over the course of four months, the kids and their families will participate in the therapy. During three 20-minute sessions per day, anything a child sees while wearing Glass is recorded and saved onto a smartphone app developed by the lab. Kids and parents can then review the footage together, and the parents can point out the emotions they were feeling at specific moments. As this occurs, corresponding color-coded bars at the bottom of the screen are linked to those feelings. A red bar at the bottom of the screen means someone is upset, for example, and a yellow bar indicates they are happy … These color-coded videos help kids remember what emotions they saw and in what context."
One participant in the study, 14-year-old Gabby Warner, told KQED that the software is already helping her better understand her friends:
"I’ve been applying what I saw with the Google Glass to situations without the Google Glass. I would see my friend’s face and it would look similar to one of the faces I saw on my parents when they were upset, so then I could ask my friend, “What happened?"