“+me”: the first Transitional Wearable Companion (TWC)
“+me” is the project whose aim is to provide a proof-of-concept named as “transitional wearable companions” (TWC) to facilitate social interaction and support the development of social skills of children with autism by leveraging highly motivating sensorial feedbacks. After having positive sensory feedbacks as a reward, children with autism tend to focus more on the interpersonal communication and achieving their goals during the learning activities. Real world’s expectations and judgments involved in social contexts might appear “unsafe” to children with autism and this makes social interactions problematic. Many children with ASD develop an attachment to a “transitional object”, e.g. a teddy bear. This is used as a reliable source of soothing and confidence during the exploration of the world independently of parents and caregivers.
The transitional wearable is also connected to a tablet through a wireless connectivity interface (i.e., Bluetooth®). Through the tablet it is possible to adjust the type of feedbacks the pillow returns. The feedback (i.e., sound, music, light) can thus be either directly caused by the child’s action, or it can be controlled remotely by an adult to encourage communication. It also provides four different symmetrical parts with separated LED and touch-sensitive sensors to change its colors or sounds depending on the tasks that they do during their therapies. The prototype of this version is responsible for three main tasks: (1) periodically providing sensory feedbacks through four different LEDs and speakers; (2) acquiring data from the children’s touch on defined areas of the pillow through touch sensors; and (3) adjusting/changing the feedbacks depending on the tasks given from the therapists.
The tasks of the prototype are being discussed and defined with therapists and a neuropsychologist towards an experimental protocol to empirically test the second prototype with children with autism. The main objective of the test will be to verify the effectiveness of the product by comparing it to other products on the market, bringing it within the traditional therapies and analyzing the recorded data related to emotional reactions of children with autism.
Possible further use: Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), generalised developmental disorders, communicative disorder, mental retardation and relational disorders.
Here are some photos from the conceptual process:
- Latest (fourth) prototype
- Previous prototypes
Designed by Beste Özcan
Keywords: Autism, transitional object, wearables based on bio-sensors, stable-reassuring interactions.
+me is developed in collaboration with ISTC-CNR, www.ist.cnr.it.