Purdue autism app wins award

SPEAK MODalitites is recognized by R&D Magazine for their SPEAKall! app. (WLFI Photo)
SPEAK MODalitites is recognized by R&D Magazine for their SPEAKall! app. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — An app designed at Purdue University continues to win awards and have an impact around the globe.

In 2014, West Lafayette-based company SPEAK MODalities released the SPEAKall! app to help people with severe autism communicate with others. The app was recently recognized by R&D Magazine, ranking them in the top 100 new technologies in the world.

The software teaches people to speak and express emotions using digital icons. The app has been downloaded over 30,000 times in over 10 countries.

SPEAK MODalities co-founder Oliver Wendt is happy families are embracing the technology.

“When we see that a learner with severe autism is making his first utterances and his first natural speech production by using our technology, it’s truly amazing,” Wendt said. “It is an overwhelming feeling.”

Wendt said people are finding new ways to use the technology.

“Families are contacting us when grandpa has a stroke and he can no longer communicate through natural or writing, and then they use our program to communicate using graphic symbols,” Wendt said.

In 2015, the SPEAK-all app was given the Outstanding Research of the Year Award from the Autism Society in Denver. Wendt says his company has many new apps in the works to help people with developmental disabilities.