It seems like everyone’s got one of those fitness trackers strapped around their wrists. Sure, they measure your activity and help to keep you healthy. But, could they do more?
Yes, they can! Awake Labs has come up with a revolutionary new way of using fitness tracker technology. Instead of tracking heart rate and other physiological signs for fitness purposes, Awake Lab’s Reveal monitors the body to predict behaviour changes.
That’s right, this isn’t a regular fitness tracker. Instead, it’s a behaviour tracker used to help children with autism. The wearable tracker uses sensors to measure changes that happen in response to anxiety. The thinking behind Reveal is that these anxiety-produced changes may actually predict meltdowns in children with autism.
According to the company’s website, “Reveal can notify the parent, caregiver, teacher, or therapist about changes in physiological signals.” This gives both adults and children the time they need to react and address the change.
It’s estimated that the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rate in Australia is 1 in 100, according to the organisation Autism Spectrum Australia. The estimates for other areas, such as the US, are higher, with a 1 in 68 rate. There are a range of behaviours that are characteristic of ASD too which may include a heightened sensitivity to the environment, including loud noises or touches.
So how does it work?
When a child with autism starts to feel stress over what’s going on in the environment, his anxiety may increase. Overstimulation and other triggers may then cause increased heart rate and additional physiological symptoms that we associate with stress. Reveal catches these before they get out of hand and turn into a major meltdown.
Reveal’s Indiegogo page explains that currently it’s a guessing game when it comes to predicting meltdowns. Even though there are certainly strategies to help children cope with these moments, it can be tough for parents and other caregivers to know when they should start them. Reveal allows parents/caregivers to spot the physical changes that precede a behaviour issue and step in immediately.
The technology may also be able to help children detect a change in their stress level, and use self-calming strategies to prevent an escalation too.
The wearable tech also has an app to go along with it. Currently still in the design phase, the company is planning for the app to capture the measurements and have an option to share the data with other family members or caregivers. This means that even if you’re not directly with your child, you’ll have the ability to continuously monitor how they’re doing and if they’re starting to feel stress. All you have to do is look at your smartphone, and you’ll have real-time updates on your child’s physiological data. You can then contact their teacher, your partner or any other member of the caregiving team for help or notify your child.
Awake Labs is also in the process of testing the product, and adapting it to the real child’s needs. The band is made to fit comfortable and securely. The durable materials are shockproof and waterproof.
The Canadian company behind Reveal won’t have the product ready until spring of 2017. As of now, you can only pre-order Reveal through Awake Labs’ Indiegogo page. While the retail value is set to be $520CAD, you can reserve the device (plus a one-year subscription to the app service) for an early bird price of $290CAD. You can also reserve a pair of bands for $575CAD or go for the VIP Package (you get the device, one plane ticket to Vancouver, one meal and a meet and greet with the design team) for a $2,000CAD donation.