Researchers at the Wehab Lab of the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory have developed a device that relieves stress in people with autism by synchronizing their breathing with vibrations applied to the body. The device is known as a haptic breathing pacer (HBP), according to a report this month by Patch.com.
“There is significant recent interest in developing technology that can help people regulate high-arousal negative affect in the course of their everyday lives,” post-graduate researcher Pardis Miri wrote about the device.
Miri noted that most technologies similar to the HBP are not developed with people with autism and similar conditions in mind. She believes the haptic breathing pacer, currently a prototype, shows promise for helping individuals, particularly children, on the autistic spectrum cope with anxiety and high-stress situations.
“Helping these children successfully regulate their affect could have a major impact on their development and could prevent them from serious health issues,” she said.
Horia Margarit, one of the researchers involved in developing the device, used machine learning to analyze data collected from the HBPs. To conduct the analysis, Margarit relied on a method published in 2017.
“Very few people even know about it,” he said, “and that's one of the major triumphs of our research because we were able to show this level of success using that technique."
Margarit described the HBP research as “tremendously promising,” in part because it involves understanding and relating to people with autism on a personal level.
“This is tremendously promising research because the entire concept behind this is similar to that of CRISPR and gene therapy: personalized medicine," he said. "What Pardis and I did was understanding people on a personal level in terms of mental health."