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Design of a Virtual Reality Based Adaptive Response Technology for Children With Autism

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5 Author(s)
Uttama Lahiri ; Electr. Eng. Dept., Indian Inst. of Technol., Gandhinagar, Gandhinagar, India ; Esubalew Bekele ; Elizabeth Dohrmann ; Zachary Warren
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate potent impairments in social communication skills including atypical viewing patterns during social interactions. Recently, several assistive technologies, particularly virtual reality (VR), have been investigated to address specific social deficits in this population. Some studies have coupled eye-gaze monitoring mechanisms to design intervention strategies. However, presently available systems are designed to primarily chain learning via aspects of one's performance only which affords restricted range of individualization. The presented work seeks to bridge this gap by developing a novel VR-based interactive system with Gaze-sensitive adaptive response technology that can seamlessly integrate VR-based tasks with eye-tracking techniques to intelligently facilitate engagement in tasks relevant to advancing social communication skills. Specifically, such a system is capable of objectively identifying and quantifying one's engagement level by measuring real-time viewing patterns, subtle changes in eye physiological responses, as well as performance metrics in order to adaptively respond in an individualized manner to foster improved social communication skills among the participants. The developed system was tested through a usability study with eight adolescents with ASD. The results indicate the potential of the system to promote improved social task performance along with socially-appropriate mechanisms during VR-based social conversation tasks.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 1 )