Google Glass app improves social skills of autistic children

Researchers have developed a prototype software application using Google Glass to deliver social-skill coaching to children with autism spectrum disorder. Findings were published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

Current human-to-computer interaction can leave a user feeling socially isolated, but the digital social coach app, called Holli, engages users in a flowing conversation to improve social skills. Along with the wearable Google Glass, Holli is able to listen and prompt the user with appropriate replies for a fully engageable conversation.

"We developed software for a wearable system that helps coach children with autism spectrum disorder in everyday social interactions," said Azadeh Kushki, an assistant professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. "In this study, we show that children are able to use this new technology and they enjoy interacting with it."

In the study of 15 children with autism spectrum disorder, Holli was able to complete most conversations without error and with a natural flow. With the flow of conversation, Holli aims to improve the users overall skill in conversing with others and reduce feelings of social isolation.

"The interesting thing about our new technology is that we are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations," explained Kushki. "Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions."