MeEmo - Using an Avatar to Improve Social Skills in Children with ASD

Sapna Patel, Darin Hughes, Charles Hughes

Individuals affected by ASD are characterized by a reduced ability to communicate and form relationships. Interactive, virtual environments (VEs) are three-dimensional, real-time, computer-based representations of reality that simulate the real/imagined world. The therapeutic benefits of using collaborative VEs have been established with some baseline studies that generally use a human to control the avatar’s behaviors in order for the subject to form a relationship with the avatar in the VE. This approach, while allowing personalized interaction, limits the scalability and accessibility, limiting widespread use. this paper reports on a low-cost, highly accessible diagnostic test to identify subjects who are likely to benefit from more intensive human-in-the loop treatments. A platform independent game was developed to measure the subject’s ability to recognize/respond to the emotional state of a virtual avatar. It was found that subjects who experienced this system learned to recognize and respond to the avatar’s emotional cues presented through changes in facial expressions and take appropriate actions to maintain the avatar’s state of happiness. There was also a noticeable increase in “eye contact” between the subject and the avatar.

DOI: 10.21437/WOCCI.2016-8

Cite as

Patel, S., Hughes, D., Hughes, C. (2016) MeEmo - Using an Avatar to Improve Social Skills in Children with ASD. Proc. Workshop on Child Computer Interaction, 45-50.

author={Sapna Patel and Darin Hughes and Charles Hughes},
title={MeEmo - Using an Avatar to Improve Social Skills in Children with ASD},
booktitle={Workshop on Child Computer Interaction},