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Autism Technology Showcase
For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center

The UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and
For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center
invite you to the

Autism Technology Showcase


Join us for a morning of demonstrations and discussion about how technologies can be used to support children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families, teachers, and providers.

Saturday, December 8
10 am to 2 pm
Beckman Center
(Click here for directions.)

Registration is currently closed. Please email Gillian Hayes to be placed on a wait list.

This event is free and open to the public.

  • An opening session featuring Dean Ralph Clayman of the UCI Medical School, Dean Hal Stern from the Bren School of ICS, and Joe Donnelly, Director of For OC Kids.
  • Showcase of technologies developed by Bren School students, faculty, researchers, alumni, and collaborators, including the demonstrations listed below.
  • A closing reception that gives all attendees an opportunity to network with researchers, developers, and other attendees as well as to brainstorm and generate ideas for an Autism App Jam to be held during Autism Awareness Month in April 2013.


The Autism and Technology Showcase presents a terrific opportunity to:
  • Interact with talented Bren School students and hear their creative ideas.
  • Talk with clinicians and researchers about strategies for intervention and support.
  • Learn about emerging technologies and trends in support of ASD.
  • Meet representatives of companies and research labs that are leading the wave of mobile app development for ASD.
  • Discuss the future of technologies for ASD.





For many people living with ASD, remembering detailed schedules can be challenging. However, the static representations of those schedules that are normally used as supports do not represent the dynamic nature of life. A well planned day can be disrupted by a late bus or cancelled work. ActivityCoach is a mobile application that provides dynamic support for changing schedules.

Reminders: Like other digital calendar solutions, ActivityCoach providers a variety of reminders and alerts. Users can select to be reminded about an upcoming event days, hours, or just minutes before it. ActivityCoach also knows how long an event should take. So, it reminds users to wrap up their activities as well. Reminders are delivered in a variety of formats, including sound alerts, text to speech, pop up notifications, and text in the notifications tray.

Flexibility: Unlike other digital calendar solutions, however, ActivityCoach can handle the flexibility many activities require. For example, in an hourly retail job, a worker may be allowed to take a break anytime after working for two hours, and that break should last fifteen minutes. ActivityCoach shows the user options, such as to continue working or to take a break, and reflows the schedule around the choices made.

Connection to Others: As users progress through their days, they mark activities as skipped, completed, or in progress. Because ActivityCoach is connected by the mobile phone network to a central server, others who are interested in this information can check progress in real time. In this way, parents who want to ensure their children made it to work or school or are on the bus headed home can monitor these events. Likewise, job coaches can observe progress hourly or daily and intervene before problems occur. These same people can also configure devices remotely when major activities change or to support scaffolding of new job skills.


CleanBook is an activity-aware cookbook that guides children with autism during the activity of “washing hands”. When the user approaches to the mirror located above the sink, the system shows the cookbook for washing hands. A multimedia projector mounted behind the sink is used to display the cookbook in the mirror . Unlike traditional static cookbooks, CleanBook displays a video for each step of the process, and recognizes some user interactions gestures to “zoom in/out” or “move left/right” the cookbook. The metaphor of a puzzle is used to demonstrate that several steps must be completed to finish the activity. Additionally, CleanBook is context-aware, meaning that it displays the appropriate step based on sensing when various activities are being performed. Thus, as CleanBook senses that a step has been completed, a new piece of the puzzle appears as a reward. The system provides also audible aids to prompt students to “stay on task” when they get “stuck” in a step. The system uses the kinnect 3D camera to recognize steps and interactions gestures.

The Hygiene Helper

Built on Android mobile devices, Hygiene Helper provides audio, video, and text-based tools to support learning and practicing healthy hygiene habits. The educational modules provide information about a variety of hygiene related topics using text, images, and videos. Each module also includes a helpful hints or FAQ section to remind about important details once the main lesson has been completed. Finally, each module includes quizzes to test students on the most important items from each section. These quizzes can be configured by teachers or families or even the students themselves. Student progress on the learning objectives and quiz scores are all logged and accessible by the students and caregivers.

Hygiene Helper can be configured to support alerting about specific hygiene tasks at appropriate times (e.g., a reminder each morning to brush teeth and put on clean clothes). Additionally, timers enable support for ensuring that an activity takes an appropriate amount of time (e.g., brushing teeth for at least two minutes or showering for no more than fifteen minutes). Audio alarms and text-to-speech messaging allow for additional support, particularly during activities that make holding or viewing the phone difficult.


MOBIS is a mobile augmented reality application enabling multi-modal interaction to provide guidance to students with autism during the object discrimination training. The system uses a vision-based object recognition algorithm to associate visual and verbal prompts to the object being discriminated (i.e., “object of interest”). MOBIS consists of three interfaces: (1) one running in a tablet teachers use to set up the therapy and monitor each trial, (2) a second one running in a smartphone a student uses as a “visor” to uncover visual and verbal prompts added on top of physical objects, and (3) the third one is a Tangible User Interface (TUI) housing accelerometers that could be attached to the objects being discriminated to detect students’ interaction gestures to facilitate the record-keeping for the teacher.


Built on Android mobile devices, the mobile social compass system provides students with audio and graphical tools to support practicing their newly learned social skills. Students configure their profiles with interests and an avatar. Mosoco notifies users when potential interaction partners are near and encourages students to interact with them. Potential interaction partners are detected based on how well the user’s interests match others and the total number of interactions they have had. iSoC also cues users throughout the social interaction through familiar “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” messaging borrowed from the Social Compass Curriculum. Through focus groups and interviews, Mosoco was seen to be efficient and likely to improve quality of interactions. Through an in situ evaluation in a public school, we demonstrated Mosoco can be used to support learning social skills during recess and lunch.


Symplay combines near field communication technology and a gaming/story telling engine with the computing, communication, and graphics capabilities of iOS devices (iPad, iPod, iPhone) creating an environment capable of a vast array of play, cognitive, teaching, and social games. The goal is to create a device that provides a rich environment for creating structured and unstructured game play and story telling scenarios that can support multiple treatment protocols. Specific play (imitation, joint attention, recall), cognitive (shapes, colors, numbers, words), and social (turn taking, cooperation, sharing, empathy, etc.) skills can be addressed.

SymPlay addresses current gaps in technology available to assist in treatment of children with ASD. First, it provides a powerful and flexible semi-virtual play system that supports a wide variety of therapeutic goals. Second, the software allows the child to direct the play scenarios. Third, it promotes participation of parents through the nature of game play and via a comprehensive training program. Fourth, the system incorporates whole body movement, a powerful adjunct to the learning process. We will make initial correlations between metrics generated on our system during play and currently accepted methods of assessing play in children. Discussion with experts indicate that play metrics are potentially useful in monitoring and assessing children with ASD.

Video Coach

Video Coach is an iOS app that incorporates video modeling as an assistive tool for therapy in the autism space. The app provides videos of models performing tasks for individuals with ASD to watch. Video Coach motivates the individuals to mirror the behavior in their daily lives with the combination of watching and practicing particular social skills. The videos are also a coaching tool that presents concepts and instruction in an engaging away.


vSked is an interactive and collaborative assistive technology for students with autism, combining visual schedules, choice boards, and a token-based reward system into an integrated classroom system. The vSked system is more than just a digital version of the paper-based tools in use in classrooms today. Using both shared large displays for the whole class and smaller networked systems for individual children, new interactions are enabled in classrooms, including social and peer learning as well as more efficient and rapid feedback for students and staff about individual progress and abilities. In a three year study in an Orange County school, use of vSked reduced the number of prompts given by teachers and aides and improved transition times. New community practices also emerged around the use of the system, such as collective cheering and general social awareness. The study also revealed tensions between facilitating a group of students (for example in the form of efficient transitions and predictable schedules) and individual students (by allowing for customized visual graphics and prompt variance).