Google Glass app helps autistic children with social interactions

Image result for Google Glass app helps autistic children with social interactionsA prototype software application, to be used with the optical head-mounted display Google Glass, has been designed as a social-skills coach for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A new study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI finds that the wearable technology can recognize conversational prompts and provide the user with suitable responses in return. Moreover, children find it easy to operate and enjoy using it.

ASD is a life-long condition that affects 1 in 68 people. A defining feature of ASD is difficulties with social communication — which can include initiating and maintaining conversations with others.

“We developed software for a wearable system that helps coach children with autism spectrum disorder in everyday social interactions,” says Azadeh Kushki, an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, and Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, Canada. “In this study, we show that children are able to use this new technology and they enjoy interacting with it.”

Children with autism spectrum disorder are often drawn to technological devices and find them highly motivating tools for delivering interventions designed to help them. The problem with existing technology, however, is that using human-to-computer interaction to teach social skills can have the opposite effect to its goal, in that the user becomes socially isolated.

“The interesting thing about our new technology is that we are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations,” explains Professor Kushki. “Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions.”

Professor Kushki and her colleagues developed the app, named Holli, to be used with wearable technology such as Google Glass — a head-mounted display in the shape of eyeglasses. It listens to conversations and prompts the user with an appropriate reply.

For example, if the user is greeted by a person who says ‘Welcome’, Holli will provide various responses to choose from, such as ‘Hey’, ‘Hello’ or ‘Afternoon’. When Holli recognizes the user’s response, the prompts disappear and Holli waits for the next exchange in conversation.

To assess the usability of the prototype software, the researchers asked 15 children with ASD to be guided by Holli when interacting socially. They saw that Holli could complete most conversations without error, and that children could follow the prompts to carry on a social interaction. In fact, Holli was often able to understand what the user was saying before/he she finished saying it, which helped the conversation to flow naturally. As well as demonstrating its feasibility, the children also said how much they liked using it; they enjoyed the prompts and found it easy to use.

“This study shows the potential of technology-based intervention to help children with ASD,” says Professor Kushki. “These systems can be used in everyday settings, such as home and school, to reinforce techniques learned in therapeutic settings.”

It is hoped that further developments will allow customization for individual users, such as changing prompt location, size and medium, to cater to each child’s unique preference and ability. In addition, more work is needed to improve Holli’s ability to deal with speech differences that can affect those with autism spectrum disorder.

“Technology has tremendous potential to change the way we think about delivering services to those with ASD. It can augment existing face-to-face interventions to make services accessible in a timely and cost-effective way and help increase treatment effectiveness,” concludes Professor Kushki.

JP Morgan Chase glitch gave some online users access to others’ accounts

JPMorgan building

Some J.P. Morgan Chase customers were able to access other clients’ personal information late Wednesday due to a glitch in the company’s online systems. The problem has been resolved, the bank said.

The glitch affected a “very low number” of customers, but personal information was revealed “as if they were an authorized user on the account,” according to Patricia Wexler, a spokeswoman for J.P. Morgan. The glitch mistakenly rerouted users to other clients’ accounts following login between 6:30 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to the spokeswoman.

J.P. Morgan could not confirm that no erroneous money transfers occurred as a result of the glitch, but said the chances of that were slim given the limited number of people impacted.

Numerous upset customers took to Reddit and Twitter to complain about the account issue.

A former top Microsoft exec has some advice for Facebook on dealing with public attacks

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

Former Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky knows what Facebook is going through.

He was at the giant when it was the undisputed leader of the tech industry, and when sentiment turned against the company and everybody — from federal regulators to competitors to the press — was attacking it.

Now Facebook is going through a similar phase. A couple years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was viewed as a wonder-kid genius who had built a tech company worth hundreds of billions in less than a decade, and was making a well-studied turn into philanthropy.

Then came the 2016 presidential election. Facebook users watched as their feeds were filled with polarizing political posts, including fake news and ads, including some that the company later admitted were bought by Russians in an attempt to influence the election.

Now, the company is being forced to testify before various committees on Capitol Hill about the Russian ads, and Zuckerberg is getting raked over the coals for tone-deaf moves like showing flood-stricken Puerto Rico to demonstrate its virtual reality platform. All the while, commentators slam it for being too powerful and insufficiently apologetic, calling it one of the “Four Horsemen” or “Frightful Five.”

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

Sinofsky captures the disorienting feeling Facebook employees probably have right now, where they thought they were on top of the world and can’t quite figure out why everybody suddenly seems to hate them.

As he put it, “We were just trying to make software. The more ppl said we were trying to be bad and do harm the wider the gap became. Surreal to us.”

But he says this is a normal part of the growing-up process for companies, and he offered some recommendations on how Facebook could handle it using a framework called Tuckman’s stages of group development.

In the end, he’s confident Facebook and other social networks will make it through the other side.

Here’s the tweet storm:

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

1/ Thinking about social networks and calls to be more responsible. Much to unpack about how companies mature. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-facebook/facebook-will-help-investigators-release-russia-ads-sandberg-tells-axios-idUSKBN1CG2GM 

Photo published for Facebook will help investigators release Russia ads, Sandberg tells Axios

Facebook will help investigators release Russia ads, Sandberg tells Axios

Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday the company was fully committed to helping U.S. congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads…

reuters.com

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

2/ Regarding election hacking, abuse, more—specifics are awful. Need addressing. Want to offer thoughts more broadly—how companies evolve.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

3/ Personally, can’t help but think of three similar waves of criticism in my own journey: product quality, anti-trust, security.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

4/ Each of these “eras” faced similar pattern of almost “this is a feature not a bug”. Deeper the criticism the more disconnected we became.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

5/ PC software used to barely work—buggy. Was always very late to market—vaporware. Then as public company scrutiny changes dramatically.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

6/ Not just places like FTC but Biz customers writing large checks. Wall St used to track “release dates ±”, but your brain as Co matures.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

7/ Anti-trust almost legendary in disconnect of early response from broader “tone”. We were literally perplexed—we’re just “innovating”.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

8/ We were just trying to make software. The more ppl said we were trying to be bad and do harm the wider the gap became. Surreal to us.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

9/ Again, get out there listen, learn, empathize, (and lose)—you change perspectives as you begin to understand—your own role changes.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

10/ Security was the same thing. Viruses/Malware were just part of computing. Ppl need to take personal responsibility we thought.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

11/ Then you see real dollar costs and realize not just a problem to be addressed but an opportunity. You see biz value in responsibility.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

12/ btw, very similar to SPAM and unsolicited mail. At time, actually argued in court wasn’t our job got fix. Wrong. We (and Google) fixed.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

13/ What’s the pattern? We talk all the time about startup and teams formation. There are phases to growth and learning. Almost routine.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

14/ Reality, a company follows growth cycle too—not just the individuals but the company itself as a member of a broader member of society.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

15/ A framework to use is Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development: storming, forming, norming, performing. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman%27s_stages_of_group_development 

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

16/ Essence is “you can’t expect a team to perform out of the gate”—likewise, can’t expect Company to fully grok world’s collective view.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

17/ As w/individuals, Cos need to be allowed to learn, grow, change as institutions. Especially true if they do what didn’t exist before!!

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

18/ Storming: no idea how to do anything. Every day magical when product does anything or you sell something—outside doesn’t pay attention!

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

19/ Forming: ok a little bit of traction—some things are repeated. Mostly though product isn’t collapsing and does what *you* want it to.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

20/ Norming: product market fit. People have roles in an organization. Outside world (early adopters!) understand/agree with first mission.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

21/ Performing: phase where you can absorb new inputs and begin to adapt to the impacts of your product in market. New customers (‘humans’).

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

22/ Thing is you don’t go through this once, but many times. That’s a real challenge. It is constantly like the ground is moving under you.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

23/ That’s because as you continue to grow, new customers/stakeholders develop higher/revised expectations of role and assume you know that.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

24/ But you’re not adapting as fast b/c whole time you are one “development stage” offset from new problems just trying to keep wheels on!

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

25/ Then company reaches a stage beyond “thinking of everything as existential threat” to full-time engagement learning/listening/acting.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

26/ Ultimate goal is to get ahead of these challenges or at very least learn to avoid your “forming” stage first reaction.

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

27/ My personal reaction to a quality problem, a regulator, legal risk is SOOO different now than 25 years ago. Companies go through same.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

 @stevesi

Replying to @stevesi

28/ Long way of saying that I am completely confident social networks will see through these challenges and more. No question. // END

 Follow

🎃 Steven Sinofsky ॐ

@stevesi

PS/ Worth remembering newspapers, television, telephones were once disruptive tech and worked to solve abuse, hacking, misuse, crimes, etc.

Smartphone sales are slowing and here are two key reasons why

Global smartphone sales saw their first year-on-year fall in history, according to new data, with analysts blaming a number of new user habits for the decline.

Research from analyst firm Gartner Thursday showed a 5.6 percent drop in sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.

Replacement cycle

Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner pointed to the lengthening of the replacement cycle as one cause. That’s a trend backed up by HYLA, a company that runs the smartphone trade-in programs for industry giants such as AT&T and Verizon. HYLA has seen a number of trends emerge that may help explain the stalling smartphone market.

Device trade-in is playing an increasing role in all smartphone upgrades — and increasing the affordability of all devices — especially in the premium category. The company said data for 2017 showed U.S. consumers owned a device for 2.59 years, or 945 days before trading it in. That’s 78 days longer than in 2016 which came in at 2.38 years or 867 days. With users in a major market holding on to a better phone for longer, new device sales will inevitably suffer.

Meanwhile, some analysts suggest that consumers are holding onto their phones longer because their new devices are dramatically dropping in price shortly after purchase. Biju Nair, CEO at HYLA Mobile thinks the smartphone market may begin to emulate that of new cars. “Despite only being available for a couple of months, the iPhone X is now achieving just $600 at trade-in — highlighting the dramatic depreciation of high-end devices,” he told CNBC via email.

Innovation

Consumers are also increasingly unimpressed with the frequency and diversity of new models. A lack of innovation and incremental benefits are failing to entice new buyers to the market, a better camera and better connection quality is no longer enough for potential purchasers to reach into their pocket.

Smartphone sales fall year-on-year for the first time   5:41 AM ET Fri, 23 Feb 2018 | 01:05

5G and the internet of things will be touted as the platform for the next spectrum of upgrades and features at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, but that’s still a way off from

being a smartphone savior. U.K. mobile analytics firm OpenSignal believes there is still life in the old 4G dog yet. CEO Brendan Gill said: “There is room for improvement in 4G as well. Telcos still need to invest in their 4G networks on an ongoing basis to provide a reliable and high-quality service to their customers.”

Apple’s micro financing options along with a strong trade-in market will continue to offer access and affordability to high-end devices. However, with Samsung launching a new flagship device to take on the iPhone X at Mobile World Congress, profit protection in a falling sales environment may mean the sky’s the limit for premium prices.