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Is New Google Glass-Based Solution a Blessing for Autistic people?

According to Dr Ned Sahin, Founder and CEO of Brain Power, a US-based science-driven company, Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency.

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In this technology, the child or adult wears light, computerised Glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation -- like digital coaching on facial expressions of emotions, when to look at people, feedback on the user's own state of stress or anxiety. Flickr
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Google Glass — an eye-wearable device that made headlines in 2015 but failed in the consumer technology space — has now rekindled the hopes of millions of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) globally, including in India. Although no official numbers are available, at least 70 million people have autism worldwide, including over 10 million in India.

According to Dr Ned Sahin, Founder and CEO of Brain Power, a US-based science-driven company, Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency.

There is no cure for autism but early diagnosis and intervention with therapies does improve the long-term outcome.

“We need help. We need families and schools to support the first wave of technology for autism and special school communities.

“I am open to collaboration if there is an interest from schools, organisations and families from India. We can customise our Google Glass-based applications for autistic people in India,” Dr Sahin told IANS.

Brain Power is currently working with several schools in the US. The “Empower Me” wearable system has been used by hundreds of children and adults on the autism spectrum.

In this technology, the child or adult wears light, computerised Glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation — like digital coaching on facial expressions of emotions, when to look at people, feedback on the user’s own state of stress or anxiety.

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The “Empower Me” wearable system has been used by hundreds of children and adults on the autism spectrum. Flickr

“The apps also encourage them to make eye contact and control repetitive behaviours — both of which are big challenges related to autism,” said Dr Sahin, a famed neuroscientist who studied at Harvard and MIT.

According to Dr Sahin, contrary to what most of the people think, kids actually treat wearable devices as fun and are facing no problem using them.

“We have discovered scientifically that people with autism enjoy using wearable devices and embedded software for socio-emotional learning,” Dr Sahin told IANS.

Each software module connects to Brain Power’s Cloud-hosted portal where Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms produce insights and predictions in real time.

The game-like apps collect numerical behavioural data — scientifically and rigorously — and present the child, family, school or clinic with insights and answers they can readily understand.

At AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington DC last month, Dr Sahin announced a couple of new products.

“We now have a package for schools consisting multiple AR devices. The devices and the software add more functionalities than we had before. It generates very good data about how kids are learning, their progress and whether young adults have the right skill-sets to get a job,” Dr Sahin explained.

Another new product is called “Learning Eye”.

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In this technology, the child or adult wears light, computerised Glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation. Flickr

In this technology, a camera is placed in the classroom which is connected to a computer that runs Machine Learning (ML) algorithms.

“AWS gave us access to its new product called Deeplens months before releasing it to the public. ‘Learning Eye’ uses Deeplens’ capabilities to run ML in the classroom in order to assist teachers as well as kids,” noted Dr Sahin.

The technology can detect if a student is paying attention or not. It can also detect if a student is writing a message on his smartphone in the classroom, giving a warning to the student while alerting the teacher.

“The teacher can also assess when the student is bored and initiate an immediate feedback to improve the student’s mood. She can get entire data about what is happening in the classroom,” Dr Sahin informed.

AWS Deeplens helps the Brain Power team run deep learning models locally on the camera to analyse and take action on what it sees.

DeepLens is easy to customise and is programmable using AWS Lambda — a serverless compute service that makes it easy to build applications that respond quickly to new information.

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Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency. Flickr

“We are very serious about maintaining privacy. Video footage stays in the classroom and is never sent to Cloud. Video processing is done at the edge of the Cloud to maintain complete privacy,” Dr Sahin told IANS.

The company has also developed a method known as “Fidgetology” which rapidly quantifies body language to assess mental health or to estimate enjoyment of ads or other media.

“Fidgetology” was developed in collaboration with AWS, using the company’s Cloud-based AI, ML and computer visions tools.

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Dr Sahin is positive that Indian schools and organisations working in the field of autism will come forward to a life-changing experience.

“We would like to expand our capabilities to India. It all depends on the desire of the people to have the new technology and empower children and adults all along the autism spectrum to teach them practical life skills,” the neurotechnology entrepreneur hoped. (IANS)

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Tech Giant Google To Charge $40 Per Device From Android Makers

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome

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Google to charge $40 per device to Android makers. Wikimedia Commons

Android manufacturers will have to pay $40 per device to Google in Europe to be featured into Google Play Store and other mobile apps.

According to a report in The Verge on Friday, a confidential fee schedule shows costs as high as $40 per device to install the “Google Mobile Services” suite of apps.

“The new fees vary depending on country and device type, and it would apply to devices activated on or after February 1st, 2019,” the report said.

“Google is also offering separate agreements to cover some or all of the licensing costs for companies that choose to install Chrome and Google search on their devices as well, according to a person familiar with the terms,” it added.

The tech giant however, has declined to comment.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Earlier this week, Google said it was updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers and may ask them to pay a fee for Google Play and other its other Android apps used in Europe.

The move was to comply with the decision of the European Union’s anti-trust watchdog’s decision against Android.

The European Commission ruled that forcing device manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome was against its competition rules and fined the tech giant a whopping $5.1 billion in July (Google has appealed against the ruling).

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With the new changes to Android that will come into effect on October 29, smartphone makers in Europe will need to pay for certain Google apps.

While Android will remain free and open source, Google will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome. (IANS)