Autism is a neural development disorder that affects individuals’ cognitive understanding; common characteristics of the disorder include difficulty with eye contact, social communication, and understanding others’ emotions.
Dr. Ned Sahin, a Boston scientist and entrepreneur, wants to help change how people with autism see the world.
In July, Sahin released the “Brain Power System,” a software application for Google Glass devices that aims to help people with autism improve their eye contact and conversation, and have better social interactions.
“Brain Power” simply adds enhancements to the pre-existing Google Glass system, a wearable eyewear technology that has had limited prototypes available since 2013.
To help teach the wearer to maintain eye contact, the software “coaches” and encourages them whenever eye contact is made. When the wearer looks at another person, the app also shows them what emotion they are feeling.
For individuals with autism, this will be a revolutionary and vital tool for engaging in conversation and understanding emotional contexts within conversations.
The software can even soothe the wearer by playing soft music during times of stress or panic.
Since individuals with autism often have difficulty communicating their needs, this can often lead to increased levels of stress and will result in panic attacks or fits.
Those with autism are also prone to wandering, which can prove dangerous when they are out of sight of a parent or caretaker and in an uncontrolled or unsafe environment.
To combat this, Sahin offers parents a remote visual camera that allows them to speak to their children directly through the Google Glass software, and allows them to see from their child’s perspective.
Dr. Sahin’s new software has the potential to change the way people with autism see the world, making it easier for them to navigate social situations and help to synthesize their own experience with what’s happening around them.
The software will undergo testing this fall at Harvard University.