Wearable Band Aims to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Track Anxiety Stressors
A team of Canadian developers is turning to crowdfunding website Indiegogo to fund a wearable device for children on the autism spectrum.
“We realized that there would be huge value if we could measure and track anxiety in order to better understand behavior and even predict behavior meltdowns,” Awake Labs‘ CEO, Andrea Palmer, says in a video on the company’s Indiegogo page.
With this goal in mind, Palmer and her team created Reveal, a wearable band that records physiological responses to anxiety in real time.
The band works by measuring three major indicators of anxiety — heart rate, temperature and electrodermal activity (also known as “emotional sweat”) — through a pair of electrodes embedded in the band. Those signals are transmitted to the Reveal smartphone app, notifying parents and caretakers of impending “behavior meltdowns,” so preventative measures can be taken. Caregivers can also add contextual data to help the app develop a complete profile of the child.
“One of our earliest mentors suggested we look at how stress affected nonverbal populations,” Reveal’s lead biomechanical engineer, Paul Fijal, told The Mighty. “This led us to engage with people in the autistic community, who saw huge value in gaining a deeper understanding of stress and anxiety. When we heard that understanding anxiety to predict behavior meltdowns could have a life-changing effect on individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, we knew that was the space we had to be in.”
“The neat thing about Reveal is not only is it helpful for caregivers, helpful for therapists, but it’s helpful for the individual, the child,” Andrea Kennedy, whose child is on the spectrum, says in the video.
Reveal, Kennedy said, is unique in its ability to grow with a child. “As they grow into adulthood, it helps them self-manage,” she added.
“Reveal is empowered care — it is a tool that promotes understanding between individuals on the spectrum and the people who care for them,” Palmer told The Mighty. “Every person is different; every person has their own strengths, weaknesses, stressors, talents, likes and dislikes.”
For Palmer, the technology has broad implications that could help conditions beyond the autism spectrum — including general anxiety, dementia, cerebral palsy and borderline personality disorder.
“Reveal is being designed to reflect every person’s uniqueness, to provide personalized care for the most impact,” Palmer said. “We hope it will help change the way the world sees autism, and help autistic people navigate and succeed in the world that we all share.”
Reveal will retail at $400 CAD (around $315 USD), with an optional app subscription of $10 per month (about $8 USD). Those who order through Indiegogo can get the device for approximately $275 USD and receive a free one-year subscription to the app. Awake Labs expects to ship orders worldwide in May 2017.