A new app released by Samsung aims to improve the lives of children suffering from autism by presenting a fun, smartphone or tablet-based developmental aid. Many who have the condition struggle to convey the simplest of emotions or form bonds with others, due to the behavioral development issues that prevent simple interactions such as eye contact. The app, known as Look At Me, is targeted at improving the quality of life for those growing up with autism by aiding in the development of basic social skills.
Over 60 million people suffer from autism worldwide, and many of those affected by the condition lack basic social skills that the rest of us take for granted. However, individuals afflicted by the disorder have no such problem interacting with electronic devices such as smartphones.
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Samsung is aiming to capitalize on this with the release of its app, which trains autistic children to maintain eye contact and convey basic emotions via a series of "missions," designed to be both stimulating and fun. It was developed in conjunction with a multidisciplinary team of clinical psychiatrists from Seoul National University and Yonsei University, South Korea.
The app makes use of selected Samsung devices’ cameras, putting users through a stimulating set of points-based missions. Each mission focuses on a specific goal, be it recognizing emotions in others via facial recognition, or helping the child to express their own feelings by mimicking the emotions conveyed on the app.
In order to assess the effectiveness of the tool, professionals from Seoul University and Yonsei University conducted a small-scale clinical trial involving 20 autistic children. The study ran for eight weeks, and yielded very promising results.
"Sixty percent of the children tested showed improvement in making eye contact," stated Kyong-Mee Chung, a Professor at Yonsei University. "They could also identify emotional expressions more easily. This app will help children with autism improve their perception and expression of diverse emotions, such as happiness, surprise and fear."
Look At Me is available from the Google Play Store for free. You don't need a Samsung device to make use of it, but the company has worked to optimize it for the Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, the Galaxy Note S2, S3 and S4, the Galaxy Zoom and Galaxy Zoom 2, as well as the Galaxy Tab S.
The video below highlights the developmental issues faced by children growing up with autism, and shows how the simple app may help them to communicate with others a little more easily.