‘Look at me’ app to help children with autism

Samsung Electronics introduced its latest initiative to help improve the lives of those with autism. Samsung Bangladesh, in partnership with Shuchona Foundation, launched the application “Look at me” at a formal ceremony in the presence of Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson, Shuchona Foundation and Bangladesh National Advisory Committee on Autism & NDDs (NACAND); His Excellency Ahn Seong-doo, Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh; Seungwon Youn, Managing Director, Samsung Electronics Bangladesh; Wonmo Ku, Managing Director, Samsung R&D Institute Bangladesh; among other high officials from Shuchona and Samsung. Samsung is working with Shuchona Foundation to help children with autism with the help of technology.

The “Look at me” app aims to help develop communication skills in children with autism, with a look-at-me-photo-opview to deepening relationships with those around them. The app works on a mobile device to help with the communication skills by training the child to make eye contact with others and to express their feelings. This app is a harmony between technology and humanity. “Look at me” was very successful in Korea and Canada, now it is being launched in Bangladesh.

How it works

It is a mobile app that trains children with autism to make eye contact with others and to express their feelings. The app keeps them motivated and highly concentrated by using the camera function of digital devices that often appeal to children’s interests. The children can learn to read a person’s mood, remember faces and take photos of themselves exhibiting a range of emotions and different poses. Seven fun and interactive missions keep the children engaged, while a point system, various rewards and sound/visual effects keep them motivated to do better. The missions in the app require the involvement of the children and their parents/trainers.

How it started

The inspiration for “Look at me” came from a campaign calling for the best ideas to put technology to use to make the world a better place.

It is well understood that many children with autism struggle to make and sustain eye contact with others, something that could affect them socially as they grow up. Studies have shown that children with autism like to interact with smart devices, so Samsung collaborated with doctors and professors from Seoul National University and Yonsei University to develop the “Look at me” app and conducted joint clinical trial with 20 children for 8 weeks. In this trial, the children tested showed improvement in making eye contact. They could also identify emotional expressions more easily. This app helped children with autism improve their perception and expression of diverse emotions, such as happiness, surprise and fear.

The campaign for this app received awards in five categories at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, including the Gold Award in the cyber category and the Silver Award in the mobile category. Samsung Electronics Canada (SECA) adopted “Look at me” in 2015 and the app was presented to over 200 families with children who have autism in association with the Canadian organization Autism Speaks Canada. Many children with autism showed significant improvement in interpersonal relations and face recognition through this project.

“Look at me” in Bangladesh

This application is the first of its kind in Bangladesh, using technology to help children with autism. Samsung R&D Institute Bangladesh (SRBD) facilitated the development of the app’s curriculum keeping the context of Bangladesh in mind. Along with the global English version, the app has been developed in Bengali which will make it easier to use for the children and their parents/trainers. The app can be downloaded for free from Google Play Store. The Bengali version “Amar dike takao” will be available soon in the Play Store.

As part of the launching of the app, Samsung Bangladesh installed the app in 100 Galaxy Tab E devices and handed these over to Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson of Shuchona Foundation. Ms. Hossain is also the Chairperson of the Bangladesh National Advisory Committee on Autism & NDDs.

Samsung always focuses on adding value to people’s lives through innovation and technology. Previously, Samsung has run successful projects with the Directorate of Technical Education. Under that project, “Samsung Technical School” was initiated at Dhaka Polytechnic Institute – where a new, state of the art laboratory was opened for polytechnic students. Training programs were developed and advanced training was provided to trainers at the Polytechnic Institute so they can provide advanced repair and industrial skills training to students. Following the successful footprints of such previous projects, Samsung Bangladesh believes that results of this app in Bangladesh will be positive and it will create an impact in the lives of children with autism.

About Shuchona Foundation

Shuchona Foundation is a not-for-profit advocacy, research and capacity-building organization specializing in neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and mental health. Established in 2014, it aims to provide a new beginning for people who suffer because their disabilities prevent them from inclusion in the country’s economic development.

Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain, a licensed school psychologist and autism activist, is the Chairperson of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDDs) and National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NACAND). She is the daughter of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She is also a member of World Health Organization’s 25-member Expert Advisory Panel on mental health.

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies, redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. We are also leading in the Internet of Things space through, among others, our Smart Home and Digital Health initiatives. We employ 320,000 people across 84 countries with annual sales of US $250 billion.