Stanford Student Creates Software to Help People with Autism Learn Social Cues

Stanford University freshman, Catalin Voss, did not know just how useful the software he created would be in the early stages of development. Voss’ startup Sension was originally developed for educational purposes, to make online learning more interactive and effective. Eventually, Voss realized his creation can help people with autism, as it had the ability to be a facial tracker as well as an emotion tracker. One of the leading deficits in people with autism is the inability to read social cues and understand facial expressions. Voss’ software, when paired with Google Glass, can be a teaching aid for someone with autism to learn the identity of facial and emotional cues.

While wearing the Google Glass, the participant is shown facial movements, to learn emotions such as “happy” and “surprised.” The software paired with Google Glass can help someone with autism interact with others, while learning their social cues for a more fulfilling social interaction. Many programs have been developed to help people with autism learn social cues. According to Derek Ott, professor in the Psychiatry Division at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine,

“Anything that can be used to facilitate social understand in people with autism is potentially beneficial. A lot of today’s social-skills training is done in an artificial setting. If you can do it in the moment, in the real world, it could be very beneficial.”[i]

Ideally, the autistic student will learn social cues from the use of the software and Google Glass, and not need to wear the Glass all the time. Voss wants the concept to be used as an educational tool. In addition, Voss hopes his creation can help people with other disorders, not just autism.

[i] “Huffington Post” Autism and Google Glass: Teen’s software could help used recognize emotional cues.13 Aug 2013. Web. <>



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