Stanford Medicine licenses Google Glass-based autism tech to Cognoa

The AI-enabled Superpower Glass system was recently shown to improve socialization skills among children with autism spectrum disorder.
By Dave Muoio
03:13 pm

Cognoa, the maker of a machine learning-based app for tracking children’s health and development, announced today that it has exclusively licensed an AI system designed to improve socialization skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Called Superpower Glass, the technology runs on Google Glass and is designed to encourage children’s facial engagement while providing feedback on social situations.

The program helps kids classify the emotion of the person they are interacting with. Using machine learning, the tools is able to identify eight emotions, and then cue the child via an automated audio clip and a visual icon. 

Cognoa said in the announcement that it will be leveraging the Stanford technology “to accelerate development and worldwide commercialization of a novel digital therapeutic for children with [ASD].”

Stanford’s researchers recently assessed the technology’s efficacy in a randomized clinical trial published a few weeks ago in JAMA Pediatrics. Here, the team provided a population of 71 children aged six to 12 years with ASD either the Superpower Glass and a companion smartphone app (n = 40) or treatment as usual (n = 31).

The researchers found that children using the wearable technology at home showed significant improvements in socialization skills (P = .005), and a not significant improvement on three other measures. One child reported an adverse reaction to the glasses.

“The intervention teaches children emotion recognition, facial engagement, and the salience of emotion, suggesting the potential for multiple mechanism(s) of action driving the observed improvement in social behavior,” the researchers wrote in the study.


Superpower Glass, much like Cognoa’s primary app-based product, is designed to be used in the home by families to supplement in-person behavioral care from a specialist. Cognoa said that it is "working to further develop and productize the licensed technology on more common, broadly available platforms, such as iOS or Android, for increased accessibility to be used in conjunction with current therapy approaches for improved outcomes."

“Digital therapeutics can extend a therapist’s reach into the home, complementing in-person therapies for improved life-long outcomes,” Brent Vaughan, CEO and cofounder of Cognoa, said in a statement. “We know that many families are facing obstacles to get their children the help they need. This technology accelerates our goal to empower parents with access to evidence-based solutions so they can more directly impact the progress of their children.”


Since raising $11.6 million in 2017 to fund its regulatory submission, the FDA has categorized Cognoa’s pediatric behavioral health tracking app as a diagnostic medical device for autism. A few months later, the company saw multiple research publications highlighting the performance of the tool. LEARN Behavioral network of ASD providers has since adopted Cognoa's Child Development app that enables LEARN clients to take a clinically validated assessment to determine their child’s risk of ASD.


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