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SBIR Phase II: Hacking Eye Movements to Improve Attention
Phone: (858) 481-1791
Phone: (858) 481-1791
The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research SBIR Phase II project will be in standardizing attention assessment in elementary school children. Teachers currently dedicate too much of their valuable time to tedium. The standard school attention assessment calls for a highly trained teacher or aide to observe a child for about fifteen minutes and record their attention behavior every few seconds. The observer tracks behaviors including out of seat time, audible noise, vocalization and so on. Teachers and aides recognize several unappealing aspects of this process, e.g., it subjectively depends on the observer, is not standardized across observers, and is too time-consuming to provide more than an occasional snapshot of the full range of children's attention skills. Worse, these difficulties affect the most vulnerable children who may be experiencing challenges due to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The time teachers must spend evaluating children's progress limits that very progress. The resulting downward spiral for these talented, intelligent, and creative young people can be avoided if teachers can focus on teaching, rather than the current time-intensive, unstandardized processes. With the current rise in rates of ASD and ADHD in children nationwide, the reliable, simple, repeatable attention assessment tool proposed in this project provides important data to meet schools' needs by better using teachers' time while generating better outcomes for students. The intellectual merit of this SBIR Phase II project lies in the research and development critical to commercialize an objective attention assessment tool that measures sustained attention, distractibility, attention orienting, focus, and inhibitory control. The assessment tool uses eye-tracking technology when children play gaze-driven games to allow monitoring of their attention. Eye trackers use small cameras to measure where an individual's eyes are relative to their head. From these data, eye trackers can tell precisely where the person is looking on the screen, indicated by a cursor that follows the person's gaze. The tool uses this cursor to control video games that were specifically designed by researchers at UC San Diego to improve various attention skills. With these games, children practice focusing and orienting their vision and learn to ignore distractions. The primary goal of this Phase II project is to test a statistically relevant sample in the target population of school aged children to validate new attention assessment tools compared with existing tedious, expensive, time-consuming tools. This research and development links these new attention assessment tools to real school outcomes. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *