MANCHESTER, England, September 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Biometric technology which helps 'see inside' the bodies of those with autism by measuring minute physiological changes such as surface skin temperature and heart rate, could be commercially available in the form of simple wristbands within two to five years.
That's according to Dr Matthew Goodwin, a world-leading authority on wearable bio sensors* who will present his research findings to delegates at Autech 2015, a conference on autism and technology in Manchester on 1 October.
Autech 2015 has been organised by charity Wirral Autistic Society to highlight key innovations - such as robotics and cloud-based technology - that have the power to transform the lives of people with autism.
People with severe autism, who are unable to communicate through words or body language, are apt to dramatic behavioural changes that include self injury, aggression, and running away. Through ten years of research in America, Goodwin, from Boston's Northeastern University, and a team of experts from universities across the US, have established that body signals may be able to predict these sometimes violent changes before they happen. This allows carers the opportunity to take appropriate action.
Dr Goodwin is working with a lightweight wristband, similar to a watch, which measures four physiological signals. Along with heart rate and skin temperature, it measures the amount of sweating at the surface of the skin and the three dimensional movements of the limb that's wearing the sensor (rapid, repetitive movements are often a sign of agitation in people with autism).
He is also exploring ways to stream information from wristbands live to mobile phones, via an app. This would enable a family member or teacher to monitor closely the person they are caring for. A simple traffic light visualisation of colours could denote the level of agitation; red could be used as a warning of behavioural change. Blue could denote under-stimulation, or boredom.
*Dr. Matthew S. Goodwin is an interdisciplinary assistant professor at Northeastern University, Boston, USA, with appointments in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and College of Computer & Information Science. He is a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab and serves on the Executive Board of the International Society for Autism Research.
Full press release available at http://www.autech2015.co.uk
SOURCE Wirral Autistic Society