In the study, 14 families with autistic children used the Google Glass system for 10 weeks, with at least three 20-minute sessions per week. The researchers had the children use the system in three ways: free-play and two game modes. In the “guess my emotion” game, a parent acts out a facial expression associated with one of the eight core emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear, neutral, and contempt. The child tries to identify the correct emotion. In “capture the smile,” the child gives someone clues about the emotion he wants to see expressed until the other person acts it out.
Of the 14 families involved in the study, six saw large enough declines in their child’s scores on the SRS-2 autism scale to move down one step in the severity of their autism classification. Twelve of the families reported their children made more eye contact after receiving the treatment.
“Parents said things like ‘A switch has been flipped; my child is looking at me.’ Or ‘Suddenly the teacher is telling me that my child is engaging in the classroom,’” said Wall after post-study parent interviews.
Although the pilot study did not use a control group, Wall thinks the findings are promising. His team is currently conducting a more comprehensive, randomized trial of the therapy, according to Stanford.