Home page Psychology blog Psychology News “I can see what you are Feeling”: Smart Glasses help Children with Autism to Distinguish Other People’s Emotions

“I can see what you are Feeling”: Smart Glasses help Children with Autism to Distinguish Other People’s Emotions

01.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of using smart glassesfor improving the socialization of children with autism spectrum disorders

It is no secret that children with autism find it difficult to interact with other people and feel like a lesser member of society due to problems with the skill of recognizing emotions by facial expressions. There are many techniques to help a child to “learn” emotions from flashcards with expressive faces, mobile applications, and other working methods of ABA behavioral therapy. Now, due to the development of science and technology, a smart device has appeared to help correctional educators, ABA therapists, and defectologists. These are virtual reality glasses with special software that make it easier to recognize human emotions through special “tips”.

The future device is based on Google Glass glasses with a built-in camera and a transparent display that is connected to a smartphone. A group of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine has developed a specialized smart glasses mobile application targeted at patients with special needs. The new device is called Superpower Glass.   

A clinical trial of the new device in home conditions has started. Seventy children from 6 to 12 years old with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are undergoing ABA behavioral therapy. Forty participants entered the experimental group and were given smart glasses with a pre-installed face recognition application connected to a smartphone. Participants in the experimental group wore glasses at home for four 20-minute sessions per week for 6 weeks total in addition to the therapy they received.

The application created is based on neural networks with a memory of hundreds of thousands of human face images, and it is capable of detecting sadness, boredom, surprise, anger, fear and happiness. When a face enters the recognition zone, the device signals in green to show the corresponding emoji and voices the emotion – yes, with a voice.

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According to the trial results, the participants in the experimental group showed such clear positive dynamics compared to the data in the control group, that the US Food and Drug Administration has awarded the device with a “breakthrough therapy” status.

In Russia, the number of people with autism has doubled over the past four years. In 2014, 13,897 people were registered, and in 2018 this number doubled to 31,415 people. Inventions like these give people diagnosed with autism a chance to understand other people’s emotions better and, thus to feel more confident.