Children with autism spectrum disorder usually can’t hold the gaze of a person they are interacting with. This often leads to them not comprehending the other person’s emotions or expressions. A Virtual reality based solution developed by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar can help to improve the gaze’ pattern of the autistic child.
The tool called ‘Towards the design of multi-user virtual reality-based interactive social communication platform for individuals with Autism and its implications on eye gaze’ has been developed by a team under the guidance of Prof Uttama Lahiri, an associate professor at the electrical engineering department of the institution. The technology has been patented. The system consists of a multi-user virtual reality platform integrated with eye-tracking technology.
Explaining how it works, the main researcher Pradeep Raj KB said, “The system makes use of measures like looking pattern, pupillary dilation and blink rate to understand the requirements of the individual. It is so simple that even parents themselves can help their child through the course of modulating these measures over time.”
The initial tests of the virtual reality based solution included 18 children with ASD, all of whom showed commendable improvement in their communication ability. The researchers say this was because of understanding others’ emotions, proximity, eye-gaze, and preference due to multiple sessions of the system.
Pradeep believes that the applications of these tools can be increased with more research.