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A Multisensory Environment Design for an Interface between Autistic and Typical Expressiveness

Objective

MEDIATE addresses Key Action Line I.2.1 by R&D of an ambient intelligent authoring environment that supports progressive interaction with enacted nonverbal multisensory creations. To reach new levels of interactivity responding to the uniqueness of individuals, the environment will sense and feedback users' behaviour as integrated patterns of image, sound, and vibration. Recognition software will differentiate habitual from distinctive behaviours: stronger and more intense feedback follows distinctive behaviour, while the user maintains control. User creations can be stored and replayed. Developed with the aid of and for the use by autistic individuals, the resultant MEDIATE environment (which will be transportable) will allow such users previously unattained levels of sensory expression: for the benefit and enjoyment of the users and, for others, providing an insight into the sensory world of autism.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
MEDIATE will be produced by the integration of technical skills, theoretical knowledge, and co-constructive design at a trans-European level. The project will proceed through a series of accumulative steps with the end users being integral participants at all times: high functioning autistic individuals from across Europe being co-authors as well as testers of the system. Sensory interfaces for the engagement, manipulation and creative feedback of touch, sound, and sight will be devised at independent locations in parallel during the first stage. The second stage will entail assembly of a full prototype ambient intelligent multisensory interface / environment, bringing representatives of all partners into the same physical location. During both stages an ongoing signature software development will functionalise each step of the evolving interface allowing the experiential usage of the multisensory environment to be captured and replayed to significant others (parents, siblings, teachers, other autistic children) as well as allowing interpretation of these special groups of users (communication impaired children) to be made by psychological experts. The completed hardware and software configuration of MEDIATE will have wide application. From the outset attention will be given to the exploitation of MEDIATE with an emphasis being placed on the robustness and portability of the system's hardware, software, and control components. This will optimise MEDIATE's widest possible clinical, therapeutic, and recreational future use for the benefit of the many and various communication impaired individuals and the organisations that provide for their care and treatment.

MILESTONES
Plan for the dissemination and use of MEDIATE (6 months) will frame all future work.
Interfaces and data capture for sound, image, and vibration (12 months);
controlling signature software (18 months);
data gathering protocols and MEDIATE user procedures (18 months) will drive a series of field trials of the portable integrated environment now completed in prototype (24 months);
final report, evaluation, and interpretation of results along with appropriate dissemination (30 months) will take MEDIATE into the community.
Results:
intelligent multisensory 'tent' environment;
user sensitive signature software;
new knowledge of the sensory worlds of autistic children;
released expression from previously uncommunicative children;
web site which provides for the possibility of an understanding between autistic and 'typical' expressive creations;
plans for future use, development, exploitation, and dissemination.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH, HIGHER EDUCATION CORPORATION
Address
University House, Winston Churchill Avenue
PO1 2UP Portsmouth
United Kingdom

Participants (4)

KING'S COLLEGE LONDON
United Kingdom
Address
Strand
WC2R 2LS London
SHOW CONNECTIONS LIMITED
United Kingdom
Address
St. John's House, 4 London Road
TN6 2TT Crowborough
STICHTING HOGESCHOOL VOOR DE KUNSTEN UTRECHT
Netherlands
Address
Lange Viestraat 2 B
3511 BK Utrecht
UNIVERSITAT POMPEU FABRA
Spain
Address
Placa De La Merce 10-12
08002 Barcelona