“Empower Me” by Brain Power
Above: Three children on the autism spectrum using the “Empower Me” augmented-reality system for autism, running on the new version of Google Glass (aka Enterprise Edition). They see the world in a different way through the computer screen, and they remain heads-up to engage with you and others. | (All images with permission.)
We take an approach that embraces the state of the art in neuroscience and neurotechnology, and yet centers on the human nature of social interactions in practical, daily reality. We immerse ourselves in the autism community and spend time with families and at schools, learning what their challenges truly are. Our tools reflect our ongoing learnings, and our rigorous testing in real-world environments has shown that children and adults on the spectrum are usually motivated and engaged with them.
The child or adult wears light, computerized glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation. 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.
Each software module connects to Brain Power’s cloud-hosted portal where artificial-intelligence algorithms produce insights and predictions in real time. The game-like apps collect numerical behavioral data, scientifically and rigorously, and present the child, family, school, or clinic with insights and answers they can readily understand. These come in the form of intuitive graphs, auto-generated IEP reports, and much more.
We aim to provide hope, clarity, understanding, social integration, and community – toward our ultimate goal of happy self-sufficiency.
We practice user-centered design, and include people on the autism spectrum into our testing, design, and brainstorm sessions. At Brain Power, we have several full-time employees on the autism spectrum, who are fully included and contribute substantially to the core work of our company.
In addition to developing products, we do scientific research and our work has been published in several peer-reviewed medical research journals. We have completed clinical trials in the clinic environment, and are conducting a new round of trials in schools. We have several federal research and development grants, as well as partnerships with Google and Amazon.
Legal Disclaimer: We do not treat or cure any disease nor provide diagnosis. We offer personal empowerment products that provide useful coaching to people who want it, and assist them with daily tasks, based on neuroscience innovations and technological advances from MIT and Harvard.
The Empower Me system aims to empower children and adults all along the autism spectrum to teach themselves practical life skills, and assess their progress numerically.
Above: A Mom cries during a live clinical trial session of the Empower Me system by Brain Power, as covered by PBS Newshour. Click the video to learn more about out why she was crying tears of joy.
What we address
Autism afects 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. We have run clinical trials. Based on all this, we have identified several key educational challenges that face a large percentage of children and adults on the spectrum, and have focused our tools on them:
Social interactions are crucial for self-sufficiency but dispiritingly difficult for some ASD children. Our tools measure and assist: emotion decoding based on facial and body language, recognizing emotionally important events, face-directed gaze, social eye contact, conversation pragmatics, and more. We have demonstrated increased self-confidence, which is the foundation of social integration.
Delays in language learning cost dearly in education and socialization. Using neuroscience and cutting edge tech, we provide ways to increase motivation and learning of language, based on the actual learning style: of children with ASD in general, and then tuned to the specific user. Gamified and based in the newest aritifical intelligence, our apps are fun and adaptive.
Autism can involve repetitive behaviors. These may have long-term impact on self-sufficiency, though ironically they may provide short-term comfort. We focus on managing underlying distress and sensory overload; and on learning to substitute more covert behaviors when desired. We also have apps for managing Transitions, e.g. transitions to new schools or simply a trip to the mall, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Having a good job is probably the highest form of self-sufficiency and dignity for an individual on the spectrum. We developed software modules to teach job-related skills of particular use in this population. We also have modules that use the internet-connected camera and screen to provide remote, digital job coaching. This allows job coaches to serve more clients, with less time wasted in transport, and to reserve site visits for when necessary – thus increasing dignity and autonomy of the employees.
“I’ve never seen Jack’s eye gaze and be as intent and focused, as it has been with those glasses, in all his 18 years of life”Cathy
“I’ll never forget: I could see him getting excited, and feeling good about it.. Then he stood up and he put his arms up and he said, ‘I feel like I’ve broken out of an autism-free prison'”Sara
“I was getting a little emotional during your presentation [about Empower Me], because it’s THAT amazing to me”Colleen
“Typically with technology – iPad and iPhone – the child is looking down for the reward. With Brain Power, the child is looking up. And looking at you!”Shannon
Gamified and Motivational
Earn points for guessing your partner’s emotion. Unlock cartoon faces and gold stars for attending to your friend’s face when talking. Compete against others and your own high score. … These tried and true motivational system, which our tests show people with ASD love, are also crucial scientifically. Through game performance and improvement we can measure if and when assistive information is actually understood and acted upon by the user.
We involve autistic people at every stage of the design process. We are committed to the idea that this is how to make a product that serves the needs of the community. From our several employees on the spectrum to the hundreds of children and adults on the spectrum who have tested our evolving system over the years, we listen and learn. And implement!
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 artifial 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.
Never before could data be gathered at this level of granularity, and now new types 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.
Web Portal for Parents and Therapists
The “Empower Me” apps on the smartglasses stream data in real time to an advanced, custom-built data analytics portal that is hosted in the cloud.
Another example of realtime data from the Face2Face session above. In this case, each and every time the child looked at his parent’s face, and each time he looked away, is plotted in precise time and on the points axis. In addition to real-time data, the cloud-hosted web portal gives several types of reports. These reports can for instance tell parents how they child has been doing and improving over the months, and can automatically log and analyze “session notes” for therapists.
The Empower Me system by Brain Power has been used by hundreds of children and adults on the autism spectrum.
New England Cable News feature on Brain Power and the Empower Me augmented reality system for autism.
Empower Me records behavioral and performance data, and bodily signals; processes them; and gives intuitive, simple, gamified feedback to the wearer, caregiver, teacher, therapist, and/or physician.
Empower Me is a set of software apps that run on head-word computers such as Glass. Software can be deployed around the world instantly, allowing us to assist families with autism everywhere.
The headset can be worn by the child (when possible) or the caregiver or both, and works with smart phones (iPhone and Android) or watch devices. Flexible and part of an ecosystem.
Glass is not a toy. It is a sophisticated computer and connected device with sensors built right in. We have patent-pending ways to turn it into a bio-sensing device.
Our Platform in Action
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