What is Popchilla’s
The CDC estimates that 1 in 88 children in the US has autism. Children with
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) struggle with communication and basic social
skills. Popchilla’s World is an iPad game designed to help these children
practice daily routines and social interactions in a fun and playful way.
In the game, a friendly creature named “Popchilla” needs the
child’s help to navigate the world and complete simple activities like brushing
Popchilla’s teeth, making Popchilla’s bed, or saying hello. As the child completes these activities
they are rewarded with in-game achievements and new activities to explore.
A special “Grownups View” allows parents, therapists and
other caregivers to track the child’s progress, personalize the activities and
get recommendations for new activities to try. In the future, caregivers will
be able to make their own activities and share them with other parents,
therapists, and families.
Why an iPad game?
Research has shown that children with autism have an easier
time interacting with technology and inanimate devices, than with people. In
particular, many children with autism seem to strongly connect with touchscreen
devices like the iPad.
Currently, children with autism practice daily routines and
social interactions by reviewing scripted stories and picture books with their
parents and therapists. With Popchilla’s World, we’re leveraging the connection
between these children and technology to allow them to practice these skills
through interactive play.
Who is making
Popchilla’s World is being developed by Interbots, a small
Pittsburgh-based startup that specializes in interactive robots and
accompanying mobile apps.
About 18 months ago we did a pilot study with the Autism
Center of Pittsburgh exploring the use of our Popchilla robot as an autism
therapy tool. The results were very positive and since then we’ve been working on manufacturing a small run of Popchilla robots for the autism community. We've also been creating apps to help
children with autism. Our apps are designed so that they’re fully playable on
their own, but in the future when the Popchilla robot is available, the apps
will interact with the robot. You
can find our previous apps in the iTunes store – give them a try!
Everyone at Interbots is really passionate about creating
technology that forms emotional connections with people. We’re very excited
about developing robots and apps that have the potential to help children with
Are you working with
anyone in the autism community?
Yes! Our partners at the Barber Institute are advising us on
game design and we’re playtesting the game at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh.
The autism community has been very supportive of our work
with Popchilla. The Autism Center of Pittsburgh and Community Alternatives were
both instrumental in our original pilot study. Currently the Popchilla robot is
being used in a study at the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute exploring the use
of robots to help children with autism improve joint attention skills.
What will the funds
be used for?
We’ve developed a prototype of Popchilla’s World and we need
your help to expand it into a complete game. So far we’ve created two
activities centered around waking up in the morning and brushing Popchilla’s
teeth. Our fundraising goal will allow us to launch the app with a basic set of 6-8 activities that have been fully tested and validated. However, the more money we raise, the more activities we can develop. We'd also love to add additional locations like a classroom and playground!
After the game launches we'll continue to support it by regularly adding new activities.
How else will my pledge help the autism community?
By working together our backers can help make Popchilla’s World free for the entire autism community. If this project receives the support of 1000 backers, Popchilla’s World will be free to download for the first week after its launch. If we get the support of 2000 backers, the game will be free to download for an entire month.
Where can I find out
more about Popchilla and Interbots?
Popchilla’s World Website
Info about Popchilla Pilot Study
Carnegie Mellon University Homepage Story
Carnegie Mellon University Press Release
Pittsburgh Business Times Article
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article