January 5, 2016: Regular readers of the Saved By Typing blog know that one of the topics we like to keep an eye on is technological developments and advances that have the potential to improve the quality of life for children and adults diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD,) from new diagnostic tools to teaching apps to text-to-voice synthesis. The latest comes from the world of robotics.
The role that technology plays in the treatment of children with autism has been known for some time, but now a French company has developed a robot designed specifically for people with the condition. Meet Leka:
Leka has been designed as a tool to help parents and caregivers teach their children using play through therapy in their own homes. The model revolves around the concept of gamification, where typical elements of gaming, such as point scoring and competition, are applied to learning to make it more accessible.
According to Ladislas de Toldi, chief executive and founder of the company (also named Leka,) “As a robot, Leka is both predictable and stable in its interactions, which is very important for the child’s sense of safety and serenity. Leka caters to the specific needs of the kids and focuses on multi-sensory stimulation. Its colors, sounds, vibrations help improve sensory processing and reduces anxiety.
A number of apps are already available which help affected children to feel safe and communicate more readily because as software is more predictable and ordered than human interactions. Swedish company Toca Boca, for example, has created a number of apps aimed at children aged three to six.
The company has designed a prototype and is currently raising funds on French crowdfunding website ‘sowefund‘ to mass produce it. The team is also reportedly working with researchers in Paris and the UK.
For more information about Leka, read the full Daily Mail article: "Meet Leka, the vibrating ‘social robot’ designed to help children with autism learn new skills"