Floreo VR brings tools for children with autism home
Virtual-reality technology helps kids build social connections
A virtual-reality headset has the ability to put its user inside an artificial world instead of immersing him or her in a real scenario, and that ability turns out to be extremely beneficial in the world of autism.
Floreo takes accessible and affordable mobile VR and uses it to put forward immersive social and communication lessons meant to be fun for the user while also helping him or her develop real world skills.
Using mobile VR to simulate different social interactions
Floreo offers several different types of training for children on the autism spectrum. One variety helps users build social connections in order to hone their skills for better social reciprocity and to help them know when to be more discrete. The teaching stories component brings scenarios forward and helps users learn to manage both planned and unplanned scenarios in a simulated but effective VR world. Sensory-based lessons are also available, providing a calming and stimulating environment to help users with stress and sensory overloads.
Supervising in order to track progress
The crux of the technology is its ability to allow the social training it provides to build on and compound real-world skills. The techniques it uses are based on established techniques that help with real-world adaptation.
The implications of this technology are far-reaching when it comes to autism. It simplifies the process for parents, allowing them to help their child at home rather than preserving the need to travel to a therapist’s office or some other location for valuable services. It also allows parents and therapy providers to see what the user is seeing so they can provide feedback and customization.
Like many other VR platforms of this kind, Floreo offers versatility to users and their parents. The virtual environments within Floreo are customizable and can be tailored to each user’s needs in terms of complexity and training method.
Development and partners
Floreo was founded by Vijay Ravindran and Vibha Sazawal. Ravindran is a veteran of Amazon, and he helped launch Amazon Prime as a product and engineering lead for the company’s consumer ordering technology. Sazawal has a Ph.D. in computer science and lectures at the University of Maryland. She has researched programming tools and techniques for children’s programming.
They partnered with several different collaborators in its efforts to improve autism services, including Celebrate the Children, the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Centria Healthcare’s Autism Services and the Montgomery County Police Department.
The Floreo platform is currently being piloted at a special education school for kids on the autism spectrum, an ABA therapy company and through the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.