“Early diagnosis is critical in helping people with autism get the support they need,” says Caroline Hattersley of The National Autistic Society in London. Thanks to Kinect, early diagnosis of autism will hopefully soon be easier than ever. According to New Scientist, classrooms like those at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development are implementing a system utilizing Microsoft’s motion sensors to track children for signs of behavioral disorders.
The classroom has five Kinect sensors spread throughout it, monitoring the children as they play and interact. Using the children’s shape and the color of their clothing, the system monitors the activity level of each child and sends it to a computer bank, which compares the data against that of the other children. The information is then checked for possible markers, such as hyperactivity or unusual stillness.
While this system is certainly no replacement for one-on-one diagnosis, it could help flag children with potential behavioral issues that need to be looked into further. As Hattersley reminds us, “While this technology could potentially identify some signs of autism, there are many factors, such as language delay and limited eye contact that it would miss.” However, one-on-one diagnoses can often be costly and time consuming, so a program like this could certainly help alleviate some of the initial burden on both doctors and families alike.
Ultimately the folks behind this project hope to merge it with another one they’re working on – a system that can measure the ability of children to follow objects with their eyes, as well as their postures and mannerisms. The desired final result? A Kinect game that parents could play with their children in the home to flag concerns, no classroom needed.