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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Students promote smart glasses for autism

McMahon, Davis

Taylor McMahon '16 and Jackson Davis '17 are interviewing people about autism across the country this summer for Brain Power, a Boston start-up company that is creating a smart glass system for children with autism, which is similar to Google Glass. (Courtesy Photo)

Two Emerson students are interviewing people about autism this summer as they travel across the country marketing a device similar to Google Glass that would help children on the autism spectrum.

Taylor McMahon ’16, a Communication Disorders major, and Jackson Davis ’17, a Film major in the Visual and Media Arts Department, are working for Brain Power, a Boston-based tech start-up that claims it is developing the world’s first and only smart glass system for children with autism.

The smart glass device is not yet available for purchase and is still under development. McMahon and Davis are traveling the country showing the innovative device to people on the street and in shopping centers while collecting their feedback and filming their responses for a promotional documentary.

“This has opened my eyes at how much we all have to learn about autism,” said Davis, a Greenburgh, New York, native whose brother has cerebral palsy. “I’ve always known about autism. My brother had friends on the spectrum, but I never understood the nuances of it.”

Brain Power

People test a smart glass device to help people with autism under development by Brain Power, a Boston-based tech start-up company. (Courtesy Photo)

McMahon, from Peabody, Massachusetts, said the Brain Power smart glass device has different games that address eye contact issues that are telltale signs of children on the autism spectrum.

“The glass has the ability to detect facial expressions,” said McMahon, explaining one of the games. “It projects a cartoon-like image. It redirects the focus on the person’s eyes. It’s a teaching tool to teach eye contact.”

McMahon and Davis began their 30-day cross-country trip on July 11 and their final destination is San Francisco.

Brain Power

Representatives from Brain Power interview people in public about a smart glass device under development to help children with autism. (Courtesy Photo)

During a July 20 phone interview, the pair had just finished interviewing people in New York’s Times Square and were talking to more people outside of a Target store in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“We’re seeing how powerful these parents are at raising these kids with autism,” Davis said.

“I’ve always been interested in working with this population,” said McMahon, who is minoring in Health Communication, “and Emerson has done a great job of providing me resources to continue on in this field.”

Brain Power was founded by Ned Sahin, an award-winning Harvard- and MIT-educated neuroscientist and entrepreneur.