My 11-year-old son, Milan, is autistic.
Now, he isn’t the kind of autistic that starts companies. Nope, he’s going to have a tough time adopting to the “normie” world (what we call neurotypical people). He can barely talk. He isn’t always good at paying attention crossing roads. He will have a tough time holding down a job, particularly one that requires communication with other human beings (which will be most of them, particularly since the world is turning many jobs that he will be able to do into robot-run services).
I have a bigger dream.
What if, people like him (and he isn’t facing as difficult a challenge as many others) could be helped by technology?
I see a way, and so does a little company working away at BoostVC, which I see as the spiritual center for VR/AR/AI community. That’s a startup accelerator located in San Mateo and was started by the son, Adam Draper, of one of Silicon Valley’s most famous investors. His dad, Tim, invested in tons of startups from Tesla to Hotmail, along with his firm DFJ (which recently changed its name to Threshold).
The company is BehaviorMe. Here I sit down with Andy Chavez and Annie Escalante joins via videoconference.
In the video, they explain how VR is being used to help autism therapists provide ABA therapy to kids with autism. They dig into what ABA therapy is, and how it’s currently applied.
Today their system is being used by a few therapists who are seeing good results. Why? Because these kids take to technology, particularly technology like VR very quickly. Why? They usually are amazing at visual processing. Some autistic kids, in fact, are so good at visual processing they go onto have amazing careers, like Temple Grandin did developing cattle handling facilities.
But both I, and the team at BehaviorMe, sees far more opportunity as new Spatial Computing devices come out (we use the term Spatial Computing, which means computing you can move around in, because there are many devices coming that will go far beyond the VR and AR devices we currently have). In the interview we explore some of the ways autistic kids could be helped in the future with these kinds of technology.
In fact, when Irena Cronin and I first were thinking of starting a company, I told her this is why I cared so much about Spatial Computing and the industry that quickly is forming to build and support it. I see how headset-based computing will greatly help my son have a productive life, from showing him how to do complex tasks to reminding him of basic things that you and I take for granted, like teeth brushing to finding him a ride to job or school via something like Uber or Lyft or a self driving car. Soon we will be wearing similar glasses, but for him those devices might be life saving.
Sorry for the poor audio, a new set of microphones has just arrived for future interviews.