Visual Computing

University of Konstanz
Universal Access in the Information Society

Interactive testbed for research in autism---the SARA project

D. Arellano, R. Rauh, B. Krautheim, M. Spicker, U. Schaller, V. Helzle, O. Deussen
Teaser of Interactive testbed for research in autism---the SARA project


Paper (.pdf, 6.5 MB)


The project Stylized Animations for Research on Autism (SARA) aims to develop a better understanding of the cognitive processes behind emotional categorization in children and adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in comparison with neurotypically developed peers. To this end, we combine novel real-time non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) algorithms, emotional facial animations, and eye-tracking technologies in a framework that serves as an interactive testbed for empirical research. In this paper, we focus on three experiments that: (1) validate real-time facial animations of virtual characters, (2) evaluate the NPR algorithms to create abstracted facial expressions, and (3) elucidate the relation between eye gaze behavior, ASD and alexithymia (i.e., difficulties in expressing ones emotions). The results show that our animations can be used in the proposed experiments; however, more evaluation is needed regarding the NPR abstractions, especially with individuals with ASD. Finally, even though no correlation was found between gaze behavior, ASD and alexithymia, the study opened several questions that will be addressed in future work.


  author     = {D. Arellano and R. Rauh and B. Krautheim and M. Spicker and U. Schaller and V. Helzle and O. Deussen},
  doi        = {10.1007/s10209-016-0521-9},
  issn       = {1615-5297},
  journal    = {Universal Access in the Information Society},
  pages      = {1--16},
  title      = {Interactive testbed for research in autism---the SARA project},
  year       = {2017},
  url        = {},