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Design and Development of a Virtual Dolphinarium for Children With Autism

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6 Author(s)
Yiyu Cai ; Institute for Media Innovation, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore ; Noel K. H. Chia ; Daniel Thalmann ; Norman K. N. Kee
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The recent proliferation of virtual reality (VR) technology applications in the autism therapy to promote learning and positive behavior among such children has produced optimistic results in developing a variety of skills and abilities in them. Dolphin-assisted therapy has also become a topic of public and research interest for autism intervention and treatment. This paper will present an innovative design and development of a Virtual Dolphinarium for potential autism intervention. Instead of emulating the swimming with dolphins, our virtual dolphin interaction program will allow children with autism to act as dolphin trainers at the poolside and to learn (nonverbal) communication through hand gestures with the virtual dolphins. Immersive visualization and gesture-based interaction are implemented to engage children with autism within an immersive room equipped with a curved screen spanning a 320 and a high-end five-panel projection system. This paper will also report a pilot study to establish trial protocol of autism screening to explore the participants' readiness for the virtual dolphin interaction. This research will have two potential benefits in the sense of helping children with autism and protecting the endangered species.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 2 )