Improving virtual reality ASD intervention games with 3DUI and 3D virtual humans
The primary goal of this research is to improve the current Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) intervention training games using Virtual Humans (VHs). To interact with virtual humans, technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), 3D user interfaces (3DUI), and computer games are often used. Virtual humans have many potential benefits for ASD interventions, such as improving the abilities of performing daily living activities (e.g., emotion recognition training). The existing games have been largely successful. However, these games seldom include the huge variety of the ASD population in their design guidelines. The main research question is can the effectiveness of the intervention games be improved by addressing the variety of this population with a Customizable Virtual Human (CVH), which may increase their motivation to engage in the games. To investigate this, I first built VEs to study the usability of 3DUI with users with ASD, since the usability of it has never been formally evaluated with this population. Then I developed a novel Customizable Virtual Human (CVH) approach and several ASD intervention games with CVH, and conducted several user studies with these systems/games to address the research questions. The results of the studies give suggest the effectiveness of applying CVH in ASD intervention training games and give the insight into the usability of 3DUI for users with ASD. Results inform new guidelines for the design of future ASD intervention games, which will use VR and 3DUI more effectively. I expect the contributions of this work will benefit to the future research of VR, computer gaming, human-computer interaction and their applications to special education. The ultimate goal is to leverage the interactive and immersive benefits of CVH, VR and 3DUI based games to improve ASD intervention training, and may help to improve the quality of life for persons with ASD.