Design of Immersive Virtual Reality System to Improve Communication Skills in Individuals with Autism
Keywords:autism spectrum disorder, communication skill, immersion, social performance, virtual reality.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) regularly experience situations in which they need to give answers but do not know how to respond; for example, questions related to everyday life activities that are asked by strangers. Research geared at utilizing technology to mend social and communication impairments in children with autism is actively underway. Immersive virtual reality (VR) is a relatively recent technology that has the potential of being an effective therapeutic tool for developing various skills in autistic children. This paper presents an interactive scenario-based VR system developed to improve the communications skills of autistic children. The system utilizes speech recognition to provide natural interaction and role-play and turn-taking to evaluate and verify the effectiveness of the immersive environment on the social performance of autistic children. In experiments conducted, participants showed more improved performance with a computer augmented virtual environment (CAVE) than with a head mounted display (HMD) or a normal desktop. The results indicate that immersive VR could be more satisfactory and motivational than desktop for children with ASD.
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