Thematic Area of product / prototype / service:
Poster and Live demo of a working prototype of an interactive experimental toy to support early intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Company (if applicable):
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council
Description of the product/Prototype/service:
A *Transitional Wearable Companion* (*TWC*) is an innovative design concept, implemented as an interactive, animal-shaped soft toy that can emit lights and sounds when it is touched. The shape and material are thought to arouse emotional attachment and reassuring feelings. A control App, running on a Bluetooth connected tablet, allows to select and combine the sensorial outputs in several ways, then producing many different patterns characterized by increasing multisensory-motor complexity. In the context of therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), these gratifying outputs can be potentially exploited by the therapist to set up playful activities, which aim to motivate the development of long-lasting social and emotional skills: the child (who triggers the *TWC* outputs by touch) is in fact motivated to interact with the therapist (who controls the tablet) to obtain the desired *TWC* output. The first experimental prototype of *TWC* is called *PlusMe*: this is a soft pillow looking like a panda, which can be worn around the neck. *PlusMe* is currently tested in a pilot experiment involving autistic children (mean age 42 months, range 36-53 months) in which the toy is used for the first time as a therapeutic support tool which aims to stimulate social behaviour, such as eye contact, imitative gestures, and smile.
Level of innovation:
The *PlusMe* is an experimental toy (still not available on market). The device is currently used in trial activities in two European projects concerning autistic children: - PlusMe: Transitional Wearable Companions for the therapy with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (https://www.plusme-h2020.eu/) - IM-TWIN: from Intrinsic Motivations to Transitional Wearable INtelligent companions for autism spectrum disorder (https://im-twin.eu/)
Flora Giocondo, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council, Rome, Italy. The participation is confirmed.