Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Computer Tool for Collaborative Play for Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Technology #6830

This technology provides a computer-based medium for patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to interact and learn important tactile skills, all in a fun environment developed with feedback from patients and physicians. With [increasing rates of ASD] (, innovative new treatments are needed to address the issue. ASD patients tend to respond well to game-based therapies. This has lead to the development of several computer games for treatments of various aspects of severe ASD, such as Mindreading and [TeachTown] ( This technology follows this trend, bringing entirely new approaches and tools to bear.

Collaborative efforts to approach a complex problem

This technology represents collaboration between engineers and architects to create a tool to help children with ASD learn important skills. A special knitted sculpture has an image projected on it from behind. Patients can push forward on the sculpture, and the amount of pressure applied is captured by a Kinect device and translated into a color, which is then displayed on the image. This allows patients to learn and regulate their tactile pressure. The device also allows for collaborative coloring, providing an avenue for social interaction. This tool may have applications for other disorders in which regulating tactile force is problematic. It is an innovative new technology unlike past approaches.


  • Assist in pressure/tactile regulation for patients with ASD
  • Provide an environment for collaborative social interaction


  • Fun tool
  • Developed with input from patients and care providers
  • A medium with advantages for ASD patients