Video Game Technology Used to Help Children with Autism
Research Triangle Park, NC - February 10th 2009 - Video game technology isn’t just about fun and games for Steve DiPaola, Kyungjae Lee, and Benny Lee at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. The team has adopted FaceFX®, a facial animation product used in popular video game franchises like Halo®, Rock Band®, American Idol®, and Gears of War® to help children with autism interact socially.
FaceFX is a software solution for synchronizing facial movements to an audio file. Developed by OC3 Entertainment, the technology is typically used to animate video game characters, transforming polygons and pixels into lifelike actors that create an immersive environment for the game. At Simon Fraser University, facial animation expert Steve DiPaola is leading a team of researchers that are using the technology to improve our understanding of how children with autism interact with their social environment.
Steve DiPaola’s background bridges the gap between academia and the gaming industry. Prior to being an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, he developed the facial animation system used in the Electronic Arts blockbuster game title The Sims®. "FaceFX technology is critical to our research teaching children with autism how to communicate." states Steve DiPaola. "The software allows us to create realistic avatars for simulating social interaction." More information about Steve DiPaola’s work can be found at www.dipaola.org.
Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction. It is diagnosed in 6 out of every 1,000 people. There is no known cure for Autism, but early diagnosis and intervention can enhance the development of communication skills and improve social interaction ability.
Kyungjae Lee, a PhD researcher on the team, explains that the animations generated with FaceFX have advantages over traditional video footage of human actors. The computer generated approach is cheaper and can be customized to the needs of individual autistic children. "The approach is very promising, but it is still in the early stages of development," states Kyungjae Lee. "We are looking forward to running a pilot test in the coming months." The pilot test is planned in coordination with Professor Grace Iarocci at the Simon Fraser University Autism Lab and Adam Naples at the Yale University Child Study Center.
For More Information Contact:
Doug Perkowski, OC3 Entertainment, Inc.
FaceFX is an advanced facial animation solution unique in its ability to liberate artists from the complexities of creating realistic dialogue and emotive characters. The nuances of facial movement can be stored as interactions between morph targets, bone poses, and material properties using the ground-breaking Face Graph™ technology. FaceFX can be used to animate characters by hand or generate lip-synchronization and speech gesture data automatically from pre-recorded audio. FaceFX is included with Unreal Engine 3 and available as a standalone product which can be integrated with any game engine or facial animation pipeline.
About OC3 Entertainment
OC3 Entertainment (www.oc3ent.com) is a private company dedicated to powering the gaming industry with realistic talking characters.
FaceFX is a registered trademark of OC3 Entertainment. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.