Virtual Emotions and Autism:

The digital revolution is once again proving beneficial in the education arena.  However, this time researchers are combining video game technology and facial expressions to aid children who have autism.

Autism is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to interact socially to the world around them.  It varies in degrees and is more common in males.  In a previous blog we cited research that suggested autism is the product of an “extreme male brain”.

According to The Portugal: News Online, this new “video game” will allow autistic children (and perhaps even adults) become familiar with facial expressions, which in turn will allow them to recognize expressions of sadness, and joy.

Developed by researchers at Oporto University and the University of Texas this new social technology tool, dubbed LIFEisGAME, is based on technology that already exists.  Microexpressions – facial expressions of emotion – have been studied for many years.   The software that teaches people how to recognize facial expressions such as Humintell’s MiX online training programs focuses on the seven universal expressions of emotion.

This research was conducted in collaboration with the Criar Association along with experts from the Technological Institute and Microsoft.  It is funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology.

The researchers state, “LIFEisGAME’s overall objective is to deploy a low-cost, real time facial animation system embedded in an experimental game, which will allow to further study the symptomatic problems of facial emotion recognition.”

What do you think about creating such a video emotion game for autistic children?  Will it be beneficial or have a neutral effect?

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