Verbal communication for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other communication challenges can be difficult or even impossible. Traditionally for those that have such severe communication difficulties, AAC apps often using visual systems, are used to facilitate communication. These systems however can take a long time to learn and master, especially those with intellectual impairments.
There are hundreds of millions of people in the world affected by various communication challenges including Autism, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries and deafness – many looking for greater independence, social inclusiveness, self expression and to be understood, said Smartstones Founder and CEO, Andreas Forsland. Communication is the most important part of the human experience and we want to ensure every person has the ability to express their most basic needs. With 2.3 million nonverbal children in the USA with Autism alone, and over 70 million on the autism spectrum worldwide, everyone has a unique need when it comes to a communication interface.
A revolutionary new system called :prose works by translating sensor data such as touch, motion and now thought gestures into spoken words. The phrases that are produced can be customised to select gestures that are easy to action or phrases that are most frequently used. The integration of EEG technology means that :prose is accessible to a larger population of people with a range of impairments, including those with ALS, Parkinsons, Cerebral Palsy and other conditions that inhibit motor-skills conditions. Many of these individuals find touch gestures difficult and therefore :prose would be of great benefit to these populations.
People have been trying to get neural devices to speak for decades, and :prose’s cutting edge assistive technology is allowing communication for a nonverbal individual. said Gil Trevino, Lead Direct Support Professional at PathPoint. One of our participants now can communicate by using mental commands. Within minutes she was speaking several phrases aloud, compared to years of training with other technologies. This advancement has allowed someone who once was non-verbal communicator, the ability to communicate thoughts, feelings and answers in a way she never has before.
Smartstones is now worked alongside PathPoint, a nonprofit organization that provides services to over 2,000 individuals with developmental, psychiatric, and physical disabilities. These organisations are working to test the “think to speak” technology. PathPoint participants with severe developmental disabilities have been able to use brainwave commands to communicate, while connected to EEG headset. Smartstones :prose is available to download on iPhone or iPad and can be used with a variety of Bluetooth connected sensory devices, including Smartstones Touch™, Apple Watch and now an Emotiv Insight or Emotiv Epoc wireless EEG headset.