Face Tracking Software using Google Glass may help people with Autism

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

CC BY-NC-ND by Ted Eytan

As reported and explained on July 2th, Google Glass shows promise for many applications for those on the autism spectrum. People with autism may soon have a new tool to assist them with recognizing facial expressions. New face tracking software allows the user to point computerized eyewear at a person’s face and receive a single word stating that person’s feelings based on the facial expression the engine reads. This program currently runs on Google Glass, the new wearable computer with an optical display mounted on eyewear. Both the program and the Google Glass system are currently in the testing phase and are not yet commercially available.

The face tracking software is the product of Sension, a new company based in Palo Alto, California. Sension co-founders Catalin Voss and Jonathan Yan originally developed the new software as an interactive tool to be used in online education. They realized, however, that the application has potential as a teaching tool to help people with autism recognize the facial expressions of others and the emotions associated with those expressions. Voss has a cousin with autism and is familiar with the difficulties in social interaction that can occur.

The company was formed this year, with Voss and Yan leading a team of Stanford University graduate students to develop the face tracking software. Voss, the CEO of Sension, is a young computer “whiz” from Germany who taught himself iOS development at the age of 12 and was hired by the Silicon Valley company PayNearMe,  a cash payment processing network to develop mobile applications at the age of 15. He is currently 18 years old and has completed his freshman year at Stanford. Yan, the head of Product & Distribution for Sension, is also an undergraduate at Stanford and is an analyst for the Blyth Fund. He is a past COO of TruantToday, a company that provides real time communication with parents to bring students back into school.

Sension has received a start-up grant from Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital company, as well as consultation form several psychiatrists who believe in the product. The online education company Mindflash of Palo Alto has just announced it will begin using the face tracking engine for its online business education courses.