On Monday, Samsung announced the development of a new app that helps children who struggle with eye contact, facial expression recognition, and emotional expression. The program “Look at Me” has been launched in Korea and is still in the clinical testing phase.
The curricula on the software was designed with the assistance of cognitive physiologists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Using an interactive “smart camera” which is hooked up to a Samsung tablet device. Using the tablet screen, children can view facial expressions and play games in which they identify the emotion and improve their eye contact.
The child is also able to take photos of themselves with the smart camera attachment and load their own facial expressions into games that are fun and instructive. In addition, parents are provided with daily feedback on the child’s progress. Samsung recommends that children use the app 15-20 minutes per day.
Although Samsung has not revealed when the app will be released on the Android platform, the company has collaborated with a non-profit in Canada to create a training program in which 200 recipients are given the Samsung Galaxy Tab S free of charge, which comes with the “Look at Me” app already installed. So far, this program is limited to Canadian residents only.
According to Samsung’s website, “Look at Me” was designed to keep families connected to each other. Their introductory video on the Youtube channel “Samsung Tomorrow” follows the journey of an 11 year old Korean boy, Jong-Hyun Kim and his mother. Jong-Hyun has autism and experiences difficulty connecting to others and coping with everyday challenges. By the end, his mother (in an actual interview) praises the program for the marked improvement she has seen in her son.
“At first I wasn’t sure about the program,” says they boy’s mother. “But these days I feel like he’s changed for the better. He can express himself in various ways and more naturally, and I feel like he looks at me as a mother. Now that we can look into each other’s eyes, we’ve become much closer.”
Although children on the autistic spectrum often have difficulty with eye contact and social skills, it has been noted that they often demonstrate interest in electronic devices. Use of iPads, for example, has proven helpful in many ways to improve many skills that they struggle with. According to a study conducted by parents of autistic children using Look at Me, 60% of the children demonstrated improved eye contact after using the app, as well as being able to identify emotions more easily.