There’s a new use for the failed Google Glass: Helping kids with autism

For all intents and purposes, Google Glass has joined the ranks of the LaserDisc or Nintendo Power Glove among the once-promising gadgets which failed to catch on with consumers. After we had written them off as old news, however, Google’s ill-fated smart glasses may have finally found their ideal use case: Helping kids with autism in social situations.

“Google Glass is a lightweight, unobtrusive, augmented reality wearable device that is ideal for use with individuals who have often have sensory sensitivities,” Dennis Wall, an associate professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biomedical Data Sciences at Stanford Medical School, told Digital Trends. “It is adjustable, and can fit on children as young as three years of age. Many other smart glasses available today are heavy or bulky, and therefore are not practical for use with children.”

Somewhat ironically, much of the negative press around Google Glass revolved around people’s fear that the camera could be used for nefarious purposes, such as facial recognition. That’s exactly the functionality that is used by the Stanford researchers — only instead of attempting to identify people, the focus is on notifying wearers of the expression displayed by the people they are interacting with. This is something that those on the autistic spectrum can have particular difficulty with.

Called Superpower Glass, the new software is not intended to be used in all social situations, but rather as a training tool at home. To that end, an accompanying phone app lets users match up emojis to acted-out emotions on the part of a parent or caregiver. It can also help promote eye contact.

“We have completed two preliminary studies with over 60 children,” Wall continued. “So far, we have demonstrated that Superpower Glass is comfortable and appropriate for use with children as young as three years of age and across the entire autism spectrum. In a longitudinal trial where 14 families used the device for several weeks at home, all children experienced a decrease in autism severity, and most parents reported an increase in eye contact after the study. Although this study did not include a control group for comparison, we have also completed a randomized controlled trial on over 70 additional children to further test the therapeutic impact of the system.”

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine.

Emerging Tech

The world’s first practical quantum computer has cash and a timeline

The dream of building a practical quantum computer could be closer than ever, thanks to a $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation to seven universities around the United States.
Computing

Apple AR glasses will launch in 2020, says respected industry analyst

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.
Mobile

Google working on quick charging fix for Pixel after Android 9.0 Pie update

Google's Pixel smartphone may be running the latest software, but it still has its fair share of issues. We've rounded up some of the more common Google Pixel problems, along with a few solutions for addressing them.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, each suited for a different occasion.
Emerging Tech

Forget flying cars: This shoe-tying robot is proof that the future is here

Engineering students from the University of California, Davis, recently built a robot whose sole personality in life is to tie shoelaces. It cost them under $600 to do it as well!
Emerging Tech

Bizarre stork robot uses a drone to compensate for its weak, twig-like legs

Developed by engineers from Japan’s University of Tokyo, Aerial Biped is a robot whose top half is comprised of a flying quadrotor UAV that's rooted to the ground by thin stork-like legs.
Emerging Tech

A treasure trove of 3D scientific specimens is now free to see online

Thanks to the California Academy of Sciences, you can access more than 700 scientific specimens and artifacts from the world-class collection via the online 3D and virtual reality platform Sketchfab.
Emerging Tech

Lyd is a battery-powered, ‘no-spill’ bottle that is activated by your lips

Lyd is a battery-powered bottle that’s something like a sippy cup for adults. Its no-spill solution is a specialized lid that uses an algorithm to detect when your lips are on the bottle.
Emerging Tech

Cotton and corn! Reebok’s newest sneaker is ‘made from things that grow’

Keen to move away from using oil-based materials to make its footwear, Reebok has turned to cotton and corn for its latest sneaker. No dyes have been used to color the shoes, either, and the packaging is 100 percent recyclable.
Emerging Tech

A new way to ‘freeze’ water could help transform organ preservation

Scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a way of keeping water as a liquid at temperatures far below freezing. Here's why that could help transform organ preservation.
Emerging Tech

Meet the Mantis Q: A drone you can control by yelling, waving, or even smiling

"Mantis, take a picture." Yuneec's new consumer drone, the Yuneec Mantis Q, responds to voice commands along with gestures and smiles. The 4K drone also integrates several different flight modes and safety features inside a one-pound…
Emerging Tech

This robot arm could soon recharge your electric car, no driver effort required

Researchers in Austria have developed a smart robotic charger that can automatically plug itself into any electric vehicle, no driver effort required whatsoever. What could be simpler?
Emerging Tech

Police body cams are scarily easy to hack into and manipulate, researcher finds

Nuix cybersecurity expert Josh Mitchell has demonstrated how it is possible to hack into and potentially manipulate footage from police body cams. The really scary part? It's shockingly easy.