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Google Glass Has an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children

Mr. Prickett found it hard to judge whether the Google device helped his son recognize emotions, but he saw a marked improvement in Esaïe’s ability to make eye contact.

Heather Crowhurst, who lives near Sacramento, said she had experienced something similar with her 8-year-old son, Thomas, who also participated in the trial. But Thomas was not entirely captivated with the digital therapy. “It was kind of boring,” he said.

The concern with such studies is that they rely on the observations of parents who are helping their children use the technology, said Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The parents are aware of the technological intervention, so their observations may not be reliable.

Still, the Stanford team considers its study a first step toward wider use of this and other technologies in autism. It has licensed the technology to Cognoa, a Silicon Valley start-up founded by Dr. Wall. The company hopes to commercialize the method once it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the use of medical devices in the United States. That may still be years away.

Other companies are taking a different approach. Brain Power, a start-up in Massachusetts that has built similar software for Google Glass, is selling its technology to local schools. The company considers it a teaching tool, not a medical device.

Patrick Daly, the assistant superintendent of the school district in North Reading, Mass., is testing Brain Power’s technology after watching its effect on his 9-year-old son, who is on the spectrum. The district intends to test the technology over the next few years.

This content was originally published here.

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