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Impairments in social communication skills are thought to be core deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In recent years, several assistive technologies, particularly Virtual Reality (VR), have been investigated to promote social interactions in this population. It is well known that children with ASD demonstrate atypical viewing patterns during social interactions and thus monitoring eye-gaze can be valuable to design intervention strategies. While several studies have used eye-tracking technology to monitor eye-gaze for offline analysis, there exists no real-time system that can monitor eye-gaze dynamically and provide individualized feedback. Given the promise of VR-based social interaction and the usefulness of monitoring eye-gaze in real-time, a novel VR-based dynamic eye-tracking system is developed in this work. This system, called Virtual Interactive system with Gaze-sensitive Adaptive Response Technology (VIGART), is capable of delivering individualized feedback based on a child's dynamic gaze patterns during VR-based interaction. Results from a usability study with six adolescents with ASD are presented that examines the acceptability and usefulness of VIGART. The results in terms of improvement in behavioral viewing and changes in relevant eye physiological indexes of participants while interacting with VIGART indicate the potential of this novel technology.
Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:19 , Issue: 4 )
Date of Publication: Aug. 2011