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(Credit: Brain Power)

Technology is now dominating the education field and a new generation of children are growing up in classrooms and homes inundated by cool new gadgets or apps designed to help kids learn and grow. Many schools are turning to AI in an effort to help teachers educate a wide variety of students across the world, and a recent study found that by 2021, AI usage in education will rise by almost 50 percent.

Companies are also starting to use AI to help people born with an autism spectrum disorder, which now affects one out of 160 children worldwide and nearly double that in the US, according to the World Health Organization.

Brain Power is one of a number of organizations dedicated to harnessing the power of the latest technology to help those on the autism spectrum and figure out ways to make their lives easier. The company, led by founder and CEO Dr. Ned Sahin, says that they have spent years immersed in the autism community studying ways they can use AI to learn more about autism and help those struggling with it.

"Autism affects 3.5 million families in the US alone, and is a complex spectrum that no one fully understands yet. We understand that each person is unique. Yet we are committed to scientifically engineering practical tools that can help people in their daily tasks and life skills, and we have spoken to and worked with hundreds of people all along the spectrum, their families, and wide array of practitioners dedicated to improving their lives," they say on their website.

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Through their research, they found that some people on the autism spectrum struggle with social interactions, language skills, behavioral control and job training later in life. Using computerized glasses, their goal is to "empower children and adults all along the autism spectrum to teach themselves practical life skills, and assess their progress numerically."

Both children and adults wear a set of computerized glasses, which gives them visual and auditory feedback based on specific situations.

"For instance, digital coaching on facial expressions of emotions, when to look at people, feedback on the user's own state of stress or anxiety, and much more. Empower Me gives an augmented-reality experience, which our tests show autistic users love. Meanwhile, they get points and rewards for learning the social-emotional as well as cognitive skills they want," they wrote.

One of the games asks users to match an emoji signaling a certain emotion with a real face that is expressing one of those emotions. The Brain Power system studies the person's reactions and answers, allowing parents and teachers to help students while gaining a greater understanding of their learning patterns.

The glasses used for the tests connect to Brain Power's system, which uses AI to give teachers and parents feedback as well as instant insights into how the person is doing. The apps that they test kids and adults with are like games, and the information they get from it helps them improve their systems and gives parents a better understanding of how the person learns and interacts with others.

They have partnered with Google and Amazon to not only help those on the autism spectrum but also learn more about the condition and ways it can be addressed medically as well as socially.

"Never before could data be gathered at this level of detail, and now new kinds of questions can be answered. Our aim is to uncover data-driven subtypes of autism, and to customize the experience for each unique child and adult. By being part of the Brain Power family, you are also part of perhaps the world's biggest humanitarian study of autism and related conditions. You can benefit your community," they wrote.

"The emotional and social computations that the Brain Power' Empower Me system takes on are difficult for the adult human brain - let alone for a lightweight wearable computer (or any computer)! We employ the newest in artificial intelligence and patent-pending algorithms, to do much of the hard work for the user and make the assistive experience as seamless and as educational as possible."

The software works on any wearable computer system but they primarily use Google Glass to conduct tests. They employ a number of people on the autism spectrum and have spent years testing the system to make sure it is appropriate for kids and adults.

Brain Power is not the only organization working on this, with both Samsung and Google partnering with other organizations to push autism research efforts. But this year, Brain Power was added to the 2019 cohort of the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers.

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Takeaways

  1. Brain Power is working to help those on the autism spectrum by using Google Glass and other wearable technology to test and study those with the disorder.
  2. The company has partnered with tech giants to learn more about autism and help those struggling with it.

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Jonathan is a Contributing Writer for CNET's Download.com. He's a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.