iSocial honored as part of MU’s Celebrating Innovation Event
iSocial was one of several startups honored by University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander Cartwright at a luncheon Oct. 11 in Columbia. Bob Etzel was recognized for his role in helping commercialize the iSocial classroom program developed by Dr. Janine Stichter of MU’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Etzel and his team of game and application developers at Nascent Stage Development (NSD) have turned 31 classroom sessions into a virtual world for children with autism. The online curriculum will help children with autism learn how to communicate more effectively so they can participate more fully in school and family life.
Whiteboard2Boardroom made the critical connection between a classroom curriculum and a game developer. Etzel attended the first Tech Snapshots event in January of 2017 where Brett Maland, MU senior licensing and business development associate, presented the iSocial program. Etzel believed his experience in startups and compassion for others could help move the innovation into the market.
A program of the UMKC Innovation Center, Whiteboard2Boardroom helps bring innovative technology to market by attracting CEO talent, securing strategic partners and identifying other resources needed to move an innovation from research to commercialization.
iSocial is one of several recent innovations geared toward children with Autism Spectrum Disorders that are making their way to market with support and connections from Whiteboard2Boardroom.
“We are experiencing a completely unexpected merging of worlds,” Etzel said. “For the first time we have 10 university autism researchers with PhDs working with 12 social media and information technology pioneers. Our goal is to radically improve the way people with autism live by combining innovative university research with cutting edge technologies. Each of the NSD business units have an autism focus and are led by both a dedicated entrepreneur and at least one PhD researcher.
Others innovation projects include:
· iSocial is now being developed into a library of web-based interventions for parents, including animations, short form video and real time parental communication. Key team: Meggan Griggs, co-founder and vice president operations, NSD; Matt Braun, PhD, New Balloon; Keenan Stump, PhD, New Balloon.
· Routine Success, which uses an Apple Series 3+ watch to provide children with ASD routine reminders and virtual connections with their parents. Key team: Matt Gunter, creator; John Bruno, author and researcher at St. Louis Special School District.
· Pupillary Light Response, which provides a simple way to detect autism during well-baby visits for children as young as six months old. Key team: Jeff Blackwood, former Pathfinder CEO and chief product officer and partner, NSD; Christa Anderson, PhD, partner at NSD.
· Dialogic Web, a project that uses artificial intelligence to help people with autism better understand what is said to them. It is a “social orthotic” that is worn by the child with autism. The system takes the spoken word, converts it to text, analyzes the text and speech patterns in an AI library and sends a response to the child wearing Google Glass. Key team: Ray Luechtefeld, PhD, advisor researcher and creator of the AI social assistant.