EMBOA

EMBOA is an acronym for project ” Affective loop in Socially Assistive Robotics as an intervention tool for children with autism”.

EMBOA project (Affective loop in Socially Assistive Robotics as an intervention tool for children with autism) aims at the development of guidelines and practical evaluation of applying emotion recognition technologies in robot-supported intervention in children with autism.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from multiple deficits, and limited social and emotional skills are among those, that influence their ability to involve in interaction and communication. Limited communication occurs in human-human interaction and affects relations with family members, peers, and therapists. There are promising results in the use of robots in supporting the social and emotional development of children with autism.

We do not know, why children with autism are eager to interact with human-like looking robots and not with humans. Regardless of the reason, social robots proved to be a way to get through the social obstacles of a child and make him/her involved in the interaction. Once the interaction happens, we have a unique opportunity to engage a child in gradually building and practicing social and emotional skills.

In the project, we combine social robots, that are already used in therapy for children with autism with algorithms for automatic emotion recognition.

The EMBOA project goal is to confirm the possibility of the application (feasibility study), and in particular, we aim at the identification of the best practices and obstacles in using the combination of the technologies. What we hope to obtain is a novel approach for creating an affective loop in child-robot interaction that would enhance interventions regarding emotional intelligence building in children with autism. The lessons learned, summarized in the form of guidelines, might be used in higher education in all involved countries in robotics, computer science, and special pedagogy fields of study. The results will be disseminated in the form of trainings, multiplier events, and to the general public by scientific papers and published reports.

The project consortium is multidisciplinary and combines partners with competence in interventions in autism, robotics, and automatic emotion recognition from Poland, UK, Germany, North Macedonia, and Turkey. The methodological approach includes systematic literature reviews and meta-analysis, data analysis based on statistical and machine learning approach, and as well as observational studies. We have planned double-loop of observational studies. The first round is to analyze the application of emotion recognition methods in robot-based interaction in autism, and especially to compare diverse channels for observation of emotion symptoms. The lessons learned would be formulated in the form of guidelines. The guidelines would be evaluated with AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines, Research, and Evaluation) instrument and confirmed with the second round of observational studies.

The objectives of our project are matching the Social Inclusion horizontal priority with regards to supporting the actions for improvement of learning performance of disadvantaged learners (testing of a novel approach for improvement of learning performances of children with autism).