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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.

Google
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”.

Google
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.

Google
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.

Also Read-Gmail: Google Alerts its Users About the New ‘Confidential Mode’

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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Experts Say That Google Storing Location Data Can Be Easily Absued

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

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Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts
Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts. Pixabay

 A day after reports surfaced that certain Google apps track your whereabouts even when you turn off location data, experts on Tuesday expressed concerns about the practice, stressing that location and identity data can be used for both good and bad.

The Associated Press on Monday ran a story saying an investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if the users explicitly used a privacy setting forbidding that.

Researchers from Princeton University confirmed the findings.

According to Tim Mackey, Technical Evangelist at the US-based tech company Synopsys, it has been widely understood for some time that tech giants like Google use data supplied through the use of their services as part of their efforts to personalize the experience.

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Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in.Pixabay

“There is a basic saying when it comes to most technology — ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. For practical purposes, this supply of personal data has been part of the virtual fees we pay to companies in exchange for ‘free’ access to the services provided,” Mackey told IANS.

“With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU now in effect and regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on the horizon, companies collecting personal data need to reassess their use of personal data,” he noted.

In a statement given to IANS, Google said that “Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete or turn it off at any time.

“As the (AP) story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions,” said Google.

just turning off Location History doesn't solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing "Web and App Activity" may do the trick.
just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

But just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

However, according to the information on Google’s Activity Control page, “Even when this setting is paused, Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session”.

According to Mackey, since we’re talking about consumer-level services, the expectation of the consumer for an “off switch” is what matters most.

“Users wishing their location be kept private indicate this preference through the ‘Location history’ setting. If vendors placed themselves in the shoes of a consumer and respected the setting, managing consent under regulations like GDPR would be simpler and the user’s expectations would be met,” Mackey emphasised.

Also Read: Microsoft’s Android Launcher Now Lets You Track Your Kid’s Location and App Usage

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

“It is sometimes extremely important to keep one’s location history private. Other times, you may simply wish to opt out of data collection. It’s disingenuous and misleading to have a toggle switch that does not completely work,” Victors said. (IANS)