The Autism Speaks Investment Conference held in NYC on February 21 was an opportunity for investors and product developers to discuss opportunities for addressing the needs of the growing autism community. As a participant, I was overwhelmed by the amazing products in development, the innovative ideas and the people behind them.
The one-day conference covered four main categories, including Therapeutic Devices and Medicines, Diagnostics and Enabling Technologies, Assistive Technologies, and Support and Services. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing four consecutive blog posts, covering each of these categories. Today I’ll start with Therapeutic Devices.
The session was an eye-opener. Given the broad spectrum of autism, this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but I was intrigued by the innovation and diversity of the emerging technologies for therapeutic developments. Three speakers from Seaside Therapeutics, Therapeutic Systems and Akili Interactive Labs brought innovative ideas and views to the session.
The presentation by Akili Interactive Labs’ co-founding director of research Eddie Martucci, PH.D., focused on his vision of “Better Science – Better Games”. He provided an inside peek at one of the most sophisticated therapeutic mobile video games I’ve ever seen. Actually, it rivals all video games I’ve seen. The game, called Lumosity, helps with attention (working memory), multi-tasking (mental flexibility) and planning (problem solving). It provides an opportunity for those with autism to learn these skills along with the chance to customize their experience, which happens to be one of the most popular elements of the game with test groups. Here’s a screenshot of the game.
The company is taking the results of neuroscience research and developing mobile gaming technologies that “heal not harm”. Akili is partnering with healthcare providers, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies to bring this technology to market.
I wish I could show you the video sneak peek of Lumosity in action, but it’s still in testing and development so you’ll have to trust me on this one! In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Can video games actually help children and adults with autism communicate more effectively and learn new skills more effectively than other therapies?