SARA – Stylized Animations for Research on Autism
Processing faces or categorizing emotional facial expressions are some of the impairments faced by people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This conveys an inability to relate to others in a socially meaningful way. Previous studies have indicated that this might be due to an atypical local-oriented strategy while processing faces, or to the amount of details conveyed by the human face, or to the focus of attention on the other's face (i.e. in which part of the face an individual with ASD fixes his eyes when interacting with another person).
The DFG-funded project SARA aims to investigate in a novel and artistic way the causes for deficits in social communication and emotion recognition in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It brings together the areas: clinical psychology (University Medical Center Freiburg), real-time non-photorealistic rendering (University of Konstanz) and character animation (Animationsinstitut, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg), providing the framework to carry out novel and interdisciplinary research.
One of the novelties and main focus of the project is the real-time generation, parameterization and stylization of emotional facial expressions of virtual characters, the latter achieved using Non-Photorealistic Rendering (NPR) algorithms. Using different versions of the DECT (Dynamic Emotion Categorization Test), an interaction with a virtual characters is established, allowing us to test the ability of children and young teenagers with these neurodevelopmental disorders to read emotional states in the face of the characters.
For Sara-related publications click here.