Diminished reality glasses


Technology and autism

Recently, two of my classmates gave a class presentation on the subject of autism, which included the following video on the subject of Carly, a child with autism, who uses technology to communicate for the first time.

Carly is able to express herself by typing on the computer. This is a huge breakthrough for her and her family, and I think it worked because typing is a very linear and discrete form of communication—that is, you only type one letter at a time. Typing abstracts away many of the difficulties of verbal conversation and can be accomplished without the same level of motor coordination and timing that writing with a pen requires.

What struck me in the video was when Carly was asked, “Why do autistic kids cover their ears, flap their hands, hum and rock?”

She answered, “It’s a way for us to drown out all sensory input that overloads us all at once. We create output to block out input. … Our brains are wired differently. We take in many sounds and conversations at once. I take over a thousand pictures of a person’s face when I look at them. That’s why we have a hard time looking at people.”

Google’s augmented reality glasses

Recently, Google published a video about Project Glass (which I’m pretty sure isn’t another of their April Fool’s jokes) and it gave me an idea.

The principle behind augmented reality glasses is that you can add context-relevant input to your visual experience of the world.

Diminished reality glasses

So here’s the idea: I think that this technology could be adapted to help children like Carly. In the Project Glass video, the glasses are used to add extra information to one’s already busy visual field. But imagine that we first filtered out most of the busyness of the visual world with darkened glasses (not too dark—she should still be able to walk properly). Then we could use the same glasses to give pixel-by-pixel control to Carly over what she sees. We could also include noise-cancelling headphones that play white noise.

Carly says that she takes “a thousand pictures” of a person’s face, and so she has a hard time making eye contact. A single image, icon or word could replace a person’s face when Carly meets someone.

I think the way that the augmented reality glasses are demoed in the video would be ill-suited to helping Carly, but I think that they could probably be adapted so that they only display the information that Carly wants to see at the time.

That said, I have no idea if this would work in real life.


    title = {Diminished reality glasses},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-04-7,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/07/diminished-reality-glasses/}


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Diminished reality glasses" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 07 Apr 2012. Web. 24 Mar 2018. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/07/diminished-reality-glasses/>


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Apr 07). Diminished reality glasses [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/04/07/diminished-reality-glasses/

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