A first prototype of the robot-based technology (Robokind’s Zeno) developed by the DE-ENIGMA project, in which Autism-Europe is involved, has been presented at the Tallinn Digital Summit, bringing together European leaders for the Estonian Presidency of the European Council.
The project, funded by the EU’s Framework Programme Horizon 2020, is revolutionising autism therapy by offering adaptive teaching of emotion expression and recognition.
On September 29, the DE-ENIGMA project has been introduced to the European leaders as part of the exhibition held in the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) as one of the best EU-supported digital projects. The event aimed to showcase new technology and projects to illustrate the impact of technology on the future potential of society as a whole.
Visitors to the DE-ENIGMA stand learnt about the overall project objective and participated in a demonstration of games that Robokind’s Zeno can deliver to support this goal. The DE-ENIGMA project is developing artificial intelligence for a commercial robot that will be able to process children’s motions, vocalisations, and facial expressions in order to adaptively and autonomously present emotion activities, and engage in feedback, support, and play.
At this stage, the partnership is devoted to designing teaching programmes that will help autistic children to enhance their social communication skills in structured teaching and in everyday interactions. For this purpose, four different games (experienced first-hand by visitors to the exhibition) have been developed and tested with 128 children so far.
Autism and robots
Recent developments in human-robot interaction technology have led to attempts to teach emotion recognition and expression to people on the autism spectrum, using humanoid robots. Preliminary findings suggest that these attempts are effective as an integral part of the psychoeducational therapy for autistic children. The main reason for this is that humanoid robots are perceived by these children as being more predictable, less complicated, less threatening, and more comfortable to communicate with than humans, with all their complex subtleties and nuances.