Incredible Wearables with Autism Initiatives

July 1, 2015 by Maria Angela Ferrario

Incredible Wearables

“Incredible Wearables” Kitchen Crew

After sharpening their tools at The Technology Kitchen in Cambridge in March, team Clasp delivered technology making session with a twist at the start of May: The Incredible Wearables Kitchen designed in partnership with Autism Initiatives at Farmers Parr Pottery studio. We had a full house with 14 people from Autism Initiatives (7 staff and 7 service users) and 4 researchers from team Clasp (Adrian, Steve, Will and Marie). Can you spot us?

Team Clasp introduced  the session  by wearing some mysterious  wearable inventions. Participants were invited to guess what they were achieving variable degrees of accuracy and with no actually ‘wrong’ answers. Lets do an experiment right now: what is Steve wearing in the picture below?


Steve’s Gingerbread man

The answer is the Gingerbread man glasses, of course. Inspired by Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, these incredible wearables dispense special digital crumbs as you venture into unknown places and can detect them as you make your way back

After that all then introduced themselves by picking an object from the sensory box: from candy sticks, to eiffel towers, the room filled up with great memories, colours and wondrous places.

sensory box

The Sensory (Open) Box

It was then time to  make our own very personal inventions, we did so in groups and came up with 14 unique inventions to include: the Sonic Whiskers, a device that worn on shoes warns of nearby objects that could hurt or been damaged by walking into them; the Grounding Ring, a piece of haptic technology that reads your mind and takes you back from your day dreaming by provining you a ‘sensory snack’ (e.g. via stroking it), and AMOK, a wearable technology that senses heart beats changes and calms you down through digital distractions (e.g. sounds).


Sonic Whiskers

From the kitchen crew, a smaller core users  group (‘CUGs’) came forward and volunteered in joining team clasp for a tree-month co-development process (May-July) and a summer study at home in August.  More information to follow.

Some Academic Related Info
The Incredible Wearables Technology Kitchen was designed to first, gain a broad understanding of the  needs, capabilities and aspirations of ASD people supported by Autism Initiatives and second, to further explore how such needs can be addressed by the design and development of personalised digital care technologies. Such aims have been achieved through the following objectives:

  1. Create a safe, fun place for learning, building trust and mutual understanding
  2. Introduce the idea that all can be makers of technology innovation and inventions
  3. Stress the importance of creativity and playfulness in learning & innovation: there is no right or wrong answer during creative process
  4. Expand the notion of what technology is (e.g. beyond screens and mobile phones);
  5. Start reflecting of what technology can and cannot do for us
  6. Start identifying participants personal needs, capabilities and interests
  7. Start identifying a potential core user group that could further benefit and be interested in Clasp follow-on activities

Clasp Overall Goal
Clasp aims to develop a technology platform to support the design and development of personalised anxiety management technologies for people with autism and their support network. The platform is to be designed for building a wide range of personalised digital care technologies that in future may not be necessarily related to autism. The project is particularly interested in investigating the role of both automated (e.g. automatic capture of movement during sleep) and actuated (e.g. data captured through interactions with technology, especially wearables and tactile) data capture and visualisation to be used, for example, for self-reflection and learning during one-to-one meetings with professional support.