Saturday, December 1, 2012

New app will help children with autism

New app will help children with autism | Aug 3rd 2012 2:07 AM

A new app is helping children with autism become more self-sufficient.

Developers at the Pittsburgh-based company, Interbots, have been working with the Barber National Institute to create a game that focuses specifically on the needs of children with autism.

Originally in the business of entertainment robotics, Interbots realized its potential to help children with autism by chance when they introduced a robot called Quasi.

"A family came up to us and said, 'So you know you made Quasi. He's really amazing.  Our son's been speaking to him for half an hour. And it's like, Oh, that's great. Kids like Quasi.  It's like, 'No, you don't understand. He doesn't speak to anyone. He has autism,'" said David Culyba, co-founder of Interbots.

The relationship between Interbots and the Barber Center combines knowledge with experience.

"We've been really excited to work with them because we come from a background of technology and robotics, and they come from a background of working with autism and working with the kids, and having that connection is basically everything," said Culyba.

The game is called Popchilla's World, and it prompts kids to perform various daily tasks for a friendly blue creature, like washing him and brushing his teeth.

The Barber Center was the site of the game's first test run with actual students.

The app lets kids interact with characters on screen, but eventually they'll be able to play with Popchilla in the real world, too. Developers are working on a robot that lets children transfer what they learn from the digital world to the physical.

The app will be available in the Apple App Store and the Android market early next year.

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