Virtual Reality Interaction Techniques for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Design Considerations and Preliminary Results

  • Evren BozgeyikliEmail author
  • Lal Bozgeyikli
  • Andrew Raij
  • Srinivas Katkoori
  • Redwan Alqasemi
  • Rajiv Dubey
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9732)


Virtual reality systems are seeing growing use for training individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although the tested systems indicate effective use of virtual reality for training, there is little work in the literature evaluating different virtual reality interaction techniques for this specific group of audience. Individuals with ASD are stated to have different characteristics and perceptions. This requires careful exploration of good design principles in interaction. This paper presents design and preliminary evaluation of interaction techniques for individuals with ASD to be used in a highly immersive virtual reality vocational training system VR4VR [1]. The system includes motion tracking cameras, a head mounted display, real time tracked objects, and several interaction tools such as haptic device and touchscreen. In this system, tangible object manipulation, haptic device interaction, touch and snap technique and touchscreen interaction were implemented for object selection and manipulation; real walking and walk in place techniques were implemented for locomotion. A user study was performed with five individuals with ASD who had no prior VR experience. The preliminary testing results and observations that show the preference of the users with ASD on the implemented interaction techniques are shared in this paper with the aim of contributing to the future studies that utilize VR for individuals with ASD.


Virtual reality Interaction techniques Vocational rehabilitation Autism spectrum disorder 



The authors would like to thank the Florida Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for funding the VR4VR project.


  1. 1.
    Bozgeyikli, L., Bozgeyikli, E., Clevenger, M., Raij, A., Alqasemi, R., Sundarrao, S., Dubey, R.: VR4VR: vocational rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities in immersive virtual reality environments. In: Proceedings of the 8th ACM International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA 2015), Article 54 (2015)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alberta Learning: Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Book 9 in the Programming for Students with Special Needs series, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (2003)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Heldrich, J., Bloustein, E.: Employment Guide for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism New Jersey, Robbinsville (2009)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    MMWR Surveillance Summaries: Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years-autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2010. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Surveillance summaries 63, no. 2 (2014)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Josman, N., Ben-Chaim, H., Friedrich, S., Weiss, P.: Effectiveness of virtual reality for teaching street-crossing skills to children and adolescents with autism. Int. J. Disabil. Hum. Develop. 7(1), 49–56 (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wade, J., Bian, D., Fan, J., Zhang, L., Swanson, A., Sarkar, M., Weitlauf, A., Warren, Z., Sarkar, N.: A virtual reality driving environment for training safe gaze patterns: application in individuals with ASD. In: Antona, M., Stephanidis, C. (eds.) UAHCI 2015. LNCS, vol. 9177, pp. 689–697. Springer, Heidelberg (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hourcade, J., Williams, S., Miller, E., Huebner, K., Liang, L.: Evaluation of tablet apps to encourage social interaction in children with autism spectrum disorders. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2013), pp. 3197–3206 (2013)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Madsen, M., Kaliouby, R., Eckhardt, M., Hoque, M., Goodwin, M., Picard, R.: Lessons from participatory design with adolescents on the autism spectrum. In: CHI 2009 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA 2009), pp. 3835–3840 (2009)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harrold, N., Tan, C., Rosser, D.: Towards an expression recognition game to assist the emotional development of children with autism spectrum disorders. In: Proceedings of the Workshop at SIGGRAPH Asia (WASA 2012), pp. 33–37 (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kientz, J., Hayes, G., Westeyn, T., Starner, T., Abowd, G.: Pervasive computing and autism: assisting caregivers of children with special needs. IEEE Pervasive Comput. 6(1), 28–35 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bartoli, L., Corradi, C., Garzotto, F., Valoriani, M.: Exploring motion-based touchless games for autistic children’s learning. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC 2013), pp. 102–111 (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Garzotto, F., Gelsomini, M., Oliveto, L., Valoriani, M.: Motion-based touchless interaction for ASD children: a case study. In: Proceedings of the 2014 International Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI 2014), pp. 117–120 (2014)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Parés, N., Carreras, A., Durany, J., Ferrer, J., Freixa, P., Gómez, D., Kruglanski, O., Parés, R., Ribas, J., Soler, M., Sanjurjo, A.: Starting research in interaction design with visuals for low-functioning children in the autistic spectrum: a protocol. CyberPsychology Behav. 9(2), 218–223 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bauminger-Zviely, N., Eden, S., Zancanaro, M., Weiss, P., Gal, E.: Increasing social engagement in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder using collaborative technologies in the school environment. Autism 17(3), 317–339 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mei, C., Mason, L., Quarles, J.: Usability issues with 3D user interfaces for adolescents with high functioning autism. In: Proceedings of the 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS 2014), pp. 99–106 (2014)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Phantom Omni – Sensable. Accessed Feb 2016

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evren Bozgeyikli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lal Bozgeyikli
    • 1
  • Andrew Raij
    • 2
  • Srinivas Katkoori
    • 1
  • Redwan Alqasemi
    • 3
  • Rajiv Dubey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Simulation and TrainingUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations