PAL: Products for Autism Lifestyle
Wearable technology company that empowers the ASD community with early notifications of meltdowns.
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
PAL is focused on improving the lives of both parents who have a child or children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the child them self by predicting when a meltdown may occur. The National Autistic Society defines a meltdown as “an intense response to overwhelming situations” (Autism. UK). Currently, parents are always on high alert because they do not know when a meltdown will occur. A meltdown can vary in duration, but severe meltdowns can last over an hour. There are many reasons why meltdowns are the top-of-mind challenge for parents with an ASD child or children.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The experience of a meltdown is emotionally exhaustive for both the parent and the child. Additionally, the child may cause physical harm to them self or others around them. Lastly, many ASD children are non-verbal or have a difficult time communicating with their parents, so the parents do not know what triggered the meltdown and therefore do not learn anything from the traumatizing experience.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We provide a solution for these parents that notify them when their child is at a high risk for a meltdown, and allows the parents to isolate their child from their current surroundings or use mitigation techniques. Currently, there is nothing like this device on the market.
We have invented a sensor embedded garment that continuously monitors a user’s biometrics and sends this data to a smart device (phone, tablet, computer, etc.). The suite of sensors included within the garment monitors Heart Rate (HR) monitor, Respiratory Rate (RR), Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), and Electromyography (EMG). Our team has successfully monitored, analyzed, and output biometric data to a smart device. Using machine learning, we can identify what a user’s biometrics were leading up to or during a meltdown. Using this data, we can then set biometric thresholds, so that when a user exceeds a threshold, a parent or caretaker will be notified through a smart device application. Our innovation can be broken down to a smart apparel shirt that has conductive passive sensors that are embedded into the shirt with a detachable, waterproof computer chip for doing all computations.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
When an individual with autism is working as a clerk at a grocery store, if a trigger occurs, our smart apparel will detect the onset of it, send a notification/alert of it, and a mitigation technique for alleviating it. When detected a notification will be sent to the care-givers (either fellow employees or a designated healthcare professional, the loved ones, and the individual with autism. The location and method for mitigation will be suggested to everyone so that they can assist in helping the individual get out or remind them to leave a situation. The technology itself will notify the individual go self regulate by moving away from the situation and in the case they are unable to, it will assist them in mitigating the meltdown.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
The current market standards are focused on reactionary care, used when the meltdown has already occurred. Our solution is able to address the underlying issue. We provide technology for these parents that notify them when their child is at a high risk for a meltdown as well as provides a mitigation technique in the event of a meltdown, and thus allows the parents to isolate their child from their current surroundings or leverage the mitigation techniques. Currently, there is nothing like this device on the market, let alone a device that is addressing pre-emptive care.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We've conducted 200+ customer discovery interviews from subject matter experts to families and the individuals of children with autism spectrum disorder. Currently, we are developing our technology in parallel with our customer discovery, so we can create a product for the people. We have been leveraging the customer discovery interviews as a testing ground for the innovation. Through our discussions we have been developing an innovation that is tailored for the intended user, we have made changes based upon the comments and feedback from community. We plan on reaching our target customers through ASD communities, social media/online marketing, ASD conferences, and Special Olympic events. We would like to sell directly online to consumers or utilize Amazon Web Services, and also would like to give field demonstrations during conferences, events, and to schools/institutions.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Success can be viewed in several aspects, for one we want to complete a total of 100 additional customer interviews, to better validate our market segment. Of these we hope to capture at least an additional 20 personnel behavioural speech therapists, assess technology specialist, as well as other research professionals in the autism space.
From a R&D standpoint we want to have an additional 40 neurotypical individuals go through our IRB approved human subject testing and 20 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These subjects are used for bettering our meltdown detection algorithm. Two months ago we were detecting at 10%, and now we are at 70%, imagine where we will be at in another two months?
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
The primary need is financial backing, of course space to operate would be good for once we our grow our current space, but funding is needed to help support the team so they can take a leave of absence from school and work full-time.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
We have experience in wearable technology as well as access technology realm. We can provide insight into the space as well as the ability to assist in best practice for customer discovery interviews.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?