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Georgia Tech students develop Autism education app | Education

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Georgia Tech students develop Autism education app

ATLANTA -- Shibani Medheker is not a mime, though she moves her arms slowly and dramatically as is she were. 

Shibani is , however, a computer programmer at Georgia Tech and while her moves may look like improvisational dance -- it's all a part of her research.

And the kind of research that changes lives.

Medheker is part of the "Kinect the Dots" app design team at Georgia Tech.  The team use interactive Kinect feature on the Xbox gaming system and what the students are working on could someday help kids with autism learn better.

According to  Sanika Mokashi, another team member, the app will enable children to so a lot of things, "the child can do a lot of things [using the app]." 

"He can go up and grab a color and color the picture. He can make on-screen characters move. For example, in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, the children can actually climb and make the little Jack character climb the beanstalk."

Combining interactive technology with story-telling is a way to keep autistic students engaged. The team actually used their prototype app with Jack and Beanstalk in the classroom.

"They were really into the story," said Medheker. "And they really enjoyed the climbing up and down motion on the screen."

The team took first place in their category in the recent Convergence Innovation Competition at Tech.

The young developers say the code-writing was easy compared to designing a program that helps kids interact intuitively with technology.

"Trying to understand what the teachers need, what the kids need, that was the most difficult part of the application," said app design team member Adhish Bhobe. 

"Once we got that rolling, the coding part was just an implementation of that, and we knew what direction we needed to take."

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