Oporto University developing computer game for autistic children

in News · 27-08-2011 00:00:00 · 0 Comments
Oporto University developing computer game for autistic children

Researchers at Oporto University have teamed up with the University of Texas at Austin, USA, to develop a computer game aimed at helping autistic children learn facial expressions and emotions to help them relate better to the people around them.

The game – which was the brainchild of various Oporto University alumni – will allow autistic children to become familiar with facial expressions and to recognise emotions such as joy and sadness thereby allowing the child to have greater ease with their inter-personal relationships.
Autism is a dysfunction that affects the sufferer’s capability of relating to others, leaving them emotionally isolated from those around them.
By pressing their fingers on the screen children can draw expressions, raise eyebrows and eyes and at the same time watch the face react. There are many different characters to choose from, including humans, dolls and animals.
Despite the programme still being in its early phase the technology on which this game is based has already been developed. Necessary tests are still to be carried out and will include testing the game on children without the dysfunction before testing it on autistic children. The finished product is expected to be completed within two years.
The ‘LIFEisGAME: Learning of Facial Emotions using Serious GAMEs’ programme was devised with the collaboration of leading specialists in psychology and therapists from the Criar Association, as well as experts from the Technological Institute and Microsoft and from the Texas University. It is being financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology.
On the official website, it explains: “The LIFEisGAME project attempts to show how it is possible to apply a pioneering, serious game approach to teach people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to recognise facial emotions, using real time synthesis and automatic facial expression analysis. This is a joint project between Portugal and UT Austin.
“LIFEisGAME advances the synthesis of realistic virtual characters and markerless motion capture technology, and creates a non-stressful game to help individuals recognise facial emotions in an interactive way.
“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.”
Meanwhile, in related news, a videogame developed by Portuguese designers was this week launched on sale in Asia.
Created by Seed Studios the game, ‘Under Siege’, for PlayStation3, is a real time action and strategy game that will be on sale for the equivalent of €11.99.
It has already been available for a few months, exclusively online, to European and American gamers for €14.99.
Under Siege took three years to develop by more than 20 people from Seed Studios and required an investment of around €1.4 million.”As well as the 50 countries in which the game was already available it will now also be sold in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia.


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