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Adaptation/Optimization of Technology (ADOPTech) to Support Social Functioning


Lisa Gilotty, Ph.D.
Division of Developmental Translational Research


This initiative aims to support the development and testing of new, cutting-edge technologies to enhance functioning in individuals with social impairments. Projects funded under this mechanism would create “social prosthetics”, or devices that would augment performance in this domain.


The state-of-the-art in interventions to enhance social functioning has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last decade. Where social skills training once consisted of face-to-face group and individual therapy, now computer-assisted instruction is commonly used. Rapid advances in technology have opened up a wealth of new possibilities for innovative approaches to intervention. From virtual reality-based social interaction training to Bluetooth-based sensory processing therapy, and from wearable biosensors for real-time measurement of responses to wearable “Google glass” for real-time feedback on social signaling, development of new technologies that can be adapted/optimized for intervention has produced exciting avenues for prospective exploration. Despite this promising landscape for revolutionary technology-based interventions, however, few examples exist of such tools actually being adapted to advance functioning for individuals with social impairments. In addition, there are very few investigators with expertise in treating these patient populations who are currently working on developing new technologies for therapeutic applications.

Therefore, stimulating collaborations between these scientists and their colleagues in engineering, mathematics, physics and computer science will be a high priority of this initiative. The ultimate goal of this work will be to enhance functioning to meet the needs of individuals with social impairments, in order to have a meaningful effect on their quality of life. This initiative aims to support early-stage development and initial testing of novel technologies for use as interventions targeting social functioning, as well as ground-breaking technologies that could be used to augment existing, established interventions focused on the social domain.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Adaptation of Augmented Reality technology to support customized feedback and training;
  • Optimizing hologram technology to provide real-time coaching; and,
  • Development of artificial intelligence applications that can be used via robotics platforms to augment therapy.

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