University of Denver Studying Robots and Autism Spectrum Disorders

As president of private investment company Hexagon, Inc., Scott Reiman guides a firm that invests in markets ranging from securities and real estate to oil and gas. Outside of his work in finance, Scott Reiman serves on several boards of trustees, including that of the University of Denver (DU).

One of DU’s current projects marries robotics with autism spectrum disorder research. The team, working out of the university’s Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, has made use of a talking, dancing robot named NAO to help children with autism spectrum disorders learn to understand facial expressions and appropriately direct their gaze. The goal is to help the kids learn to successfully interact with others.

The DU professor in charge of the study says he chose to use robots because children with autism spectrum disorders can find human interaction overwhelming. Many of those kids also display a liking for technology and toys. The professor and his team are using NAO to teach lessons on subjects ranging from recognizing emotions in others to keeping focused on the same object as someone else. The research is ongoing, and the team wants to introduce a second robot to the study.