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A message from Aspire President Thomas Sy

Phone: (716) 324-2744

New Tech Works to Open Window to Communication

Technology has taken over so many parts of our day-to-day lives — from quickly looking up directions, to booking tickets to new and amazing assistive devices.  As incredible as the latest trends and advancements are, modern technology has received some slack for improving trivial problems, in lieu of working to advance issues that could substantially solve problems that have historically limited the human condition.

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the year’s biggest technology conference, one unit stuck out from the almost-constant unveilings of the latest gadget, phone and/or touch screen units.

Robot Friend?

Enter Leka, a smart toy robot that in some ways resembles a child-friendly robot featured in the latest Star Wars movies.  Instead of selling an up-to-date operating system or an upgrade or two, Leka offers real purpose – to assist children with autism and/or other developmental disabilities learn and communicate with others.  The device is meant for therapy institutions and/or educational establishments that focus on autism and other conditions.  It can be controlled by either a caregiver or set so that children of any age or adults with more severe disabilities can break through social hurdles to progress at a pace that is best for their unique circumstance.  Since these individuals often have trouble interacting, learning in traditional environments or taking social cues, toys like Leka act as a buffer, to foster a bond that may not be achievable through typical interactions with an adult.

Not Just Bells and Whistles

The toy illuminates with colorful lights, plays music, vibrates and even contains a screen showing a myriad of facial expressions or displays photos and videos.  But its main function is to allow users to play interactive educational games that can be customized to fit children with different levels and needs.  The games range from simple – asking a children to identify a number or color to more difficult – challenging the child to react to social cues and interact with an adult overseeing the experience.  Via repetitive actions, the toy is designed to be a reliable and safe bedrock for individuals with disabilities to count on and learn through.

Toys designed to build on and improve cognitive function or development can typically cost thousands of dollars, and the French startup that goes by the same name (Leka) that built it envisions its price tag of around $750 dollars will allow parents to purchase it instead of relying on a facility or institution to provide its intended window to communication.  The company plans on delivering the product by November of this year.

 


Here on our blog, we love to share stories of the advancement and acknowledgement of individuals with developmental disabilities in Buffalo NY, and all over the US. Leka is an outstanding example of how far we’ve come in the last few years in assistive technology that helps benefit children and teens with developmental disabilities. For more news and interesting stories, check out our facebook page, and stay tuned to the Aspire of WNY blog!

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