An android for enhancing social skills and emotion recognition in people with autism

Giovanni Pioggia, Roberta Igliozzi, Marcello Ferro, Arti Ahluwalia, Filippo Muratori, Danilo De Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well documented that the processing of social and emotional information is impaired in people with autism. Recent studies have shown that individuals, particularly those with high functioning autism, can learn to cope with common social situations if they are made to enact possible scenarios they may encounter in real life during therapy. The main aim of this work is to describe an interactive life-like facial display (FACE) and a supporting therapeutic protocol that will enable us to verify if the system can help children with autism to learn, identify, interpret, and use emotional information and extend these skills in a socially appropriate, flexible, and adaptive context. The therapeutic setup consists of a specially equipped room in which the subject, under the supervision of a therapist, can interact with FACE. The android display and associated control system has automatic facial tracking, expression recognition, and eye tracking. The treatment scheme is based on a series of therapist-guided sessions in which a patient communicates with FACE through an interactive console. Preliminary data regarding the exposure to FACE of two children are reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • Autism
  • Biomimetics
  • Recognition of emotional expressions
  • Robot-based treatment method
  • Social attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Health Professions(all)


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