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An Israeli start-up by Reichman University alums, provides visual prompts to people with autism and social anxiety disorder

Having a ‘social guide’ on AR glasses to prompt context-appropriate responses could be a gamechanger for people with autism and social anxiety disorder.

Example of AR visual cues

Arrows, a real-time “personal assistant” feedback system, incorporated into augmented reality glasses, is designed to improve conversations and social interactions for individuals with communication challenges due to autism and social anxiety disorder. Feedback is projected onto the glasses only when needed with a minimum distraction to the field of view.

Arrows founder Eran Dvir has a background in visual communication and studied advanced interaction techniques at Reichman University’s MA in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). “I have a 16 year old daughter with Autism. It was through the HCI program that I had a light bolt moment where I realized that with my background in visual communications design, I could create an Augmented Reality app that would help her communicate more effectively with the aid of simple visual cues”.

Through the HCI program at Reichman University, Eran met Biran Shaar, a fellow student with a background in Computer Science. They paired up to eventually design a system implemented on AR glasses which was successfully tested on a group of teenagers with high functioning autism (HFA) between the ages of 13-18. The feedback was very positive: “I always get anxiety talking in social events because I’m afraid of humiliating myself. The glasses helped me and improved my self-efficacy” and “the icon reminded me to react, to understand that it’s the right time to take part in the conversation, very helpful.”

Eran says “we believe that with these AR visual cues, we can help those with impaired communication become more socially independent as well as foster a better sense of well-being. These cues, signal correcting tone, avoiding repetitiveness, raising or lowering volume, as well as signal the end of a

Eran Dvir, Arrows Founder

conversation.”

Oren Zuckerman, head of the MA in HCI adds “HCI is an interdisciplinary field that brings together students with background in technology, design, psychology, and humanities. Our students, like Eran and Biran, collaborate to create meaningful prototypes that can have a real impact on people. We’re proud to see our students following their passion by founding new companies or joining UX and product teams in top growth startups.”

Arrows leverages off AI breakthroughs in natural-language and video processing to understand the user’s posture, movements and intentions as well as facial emotion recognition. The app employs facial recognition, natural language processing, and video processing to offer the wearer the most appropriate solution in real time.

Arrows have recently won grants from the Israel Innovation Authority and is currently in the initial stage of MVP creation, with the pilot to be released in the coming months and are actively recruiting tech and clinical experts.

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