Recently I’ve been thinking a lot of how modern tools and gadgets could be of help to autistic kids (and adults too) if we step outside the box of traditional methods.
Early in the game I dabbled with Augmented Reality on Android phones in order to display “enhanced” information, but the phone was too much of an distraction – this for kids who need as few inputs as possible.
The first prototype recognized a set of images with facial expressions and superimposed widgit pictograms with text on top of the pictures that described the expression and feeling. I also mapped the alphabet with the phonetic sound for each letter.
While this was a fun project to do – and my boys were at the age where they needed help with this – the technology just didn’t blend in enough to be useful without distracting the boys and I dropped the idea.
Fast-forward to about now and the soon-to-be-available (I hope so anyway!) castAR specs which seems to be the platform to tinker with when having my set of ideas for the autistic!
The very first idea I thought of was to OCR scan any text in the field of view and then display the corresponding widgit/pictogram image next to it.
The best tools we have are the simplest ones and I actually think this could be very useful to these kids when they are learning the necessary skills to become less dependent on other people to interpret the environment for them!
We need to think outside the box and try what’s available or what’s about to be available. If we put the focus on the task and less to showcase the technology it might just work…
Anyhow, I shall try to prototype this idea in Android and if it works as intended – and I get good feedback from my boys – then perhaps we should try to get it running on a set of castAR?
If you haven’t heard of castAR then please have a look! It’s the brainchild of former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson and they are very near something revolutionary!
Their company is called Technical Illusions.