Research Foundation News

November 7, 2017

SPEAK MODalities honored for best product design for scientifically validated tools to treat speech and language disorders in autism

Logan casas Purdue speech-language pathology student Madison Logan (left) assists Victoria Casas and her mother, Elba Casas, with a language learning activity through the SPEAK MODalities app, SPEAKall!®. (Purdue Research Foundation photo/Oren Darling) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – SPEAK MODalities LLC, a company that develops software tools to help children diagnosed with severe, nonverbal autism or other communicative disorders, was recently recognized for best product design in the medical devices category at the 2017 Electronic Component News Impact Awards in Chicago.

The award recognizes excellence in design engineering. Finalists are judged by peers in their respective industries to identify products that made the greatest impact in the last year.

Based on Purdue University innovation, the company’s digital applications are grounded in scientific research.

“We pursue an approach known as ‘participatory design’ in the design and development of our technology,” said Oliver Wendt, co-founder of SPEAK MODalities and chief science officer. “Parents, caretakers, clinicians, and teachers, all of the people involved in the life of the individual who is faced with communication challenges, were instrumental in helping us develop and commercialize the crucial elements of our technology.”   

The company developed applications for iPad, Android and other digital tablets used in the Purdue Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Autism Research Lab. The first app, SPEAKall!, was the result of a collaboration between Wendt and students in Purdue's Engineering Projects in Community Service in 2012. SPEAK MODalities was created in 2014 to expand the development and commercialization of the technology across the globe.

“To date, more than 40,000 people have downloaded our apps, and there is clearly a critical need among families, caregivers, children and adults for this type of assistive technology,” Wendt said.

The National Institutes of Health has recently called for new intervention technologies to help individuals on the autism spectrum and reduce the costs to schools, parents, and insurance, estimated at $268 billion annually in the U.S. alone. That figure is estimated to reach $461 billion in 2025.

SPEAK MODalities received guidance from the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurial hub in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue’s Discovery Park, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and funding through the Purdue Innovation and Commercialization Center (ICC-IT) and the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization Trask Innovation Award.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was co-named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

About SPEAK MODalities

SPEAK MODalities was formed in 2014 and obtained an exclusive license to the SPEAKall! and SPEAKmore! technologies from the Purdue Research Foundation. The first commercially supported version of SPEAKall! was released in January 2014. SPEAK MODalities has a mission to expand the reach of SPEAKall! and subsequent products that assist individuals with special needs to develop speech and language skills. 

Writer: Lyna Landis, 765-588-3575,

Source: Oliver Wendt, 765-588-3470,

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