Understanding the role of Proximity and Eye gaze in human–computer interaction for individuals with autism

  • Pradeep Raj Krishnappa BabuEmail author
  • Uttama Lahiri
Original Research


Atypical gaze coupled with impairments in communication skills in varying social situations are some of the core deficits of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Certain aspects of social situations e.g., communicator’s Proximity and Eye-gaze are important for nurturing effective two-way social communication. Additionally, limited explicit expression of cognitive states for ASD, necessitates picking up of implicit measures e.g., gaze and physiology (not affected by communication vulnerabilities). Thus, it is important to explore variations in gaze (quantified by fixation duration) and physiology (e.g., pupil diameter, blink rate) in response to social situations embedded with variations in Proximity and Eye-gaze. In our present study, we have investigated the implication of systematically manipulated Proximity and Eye-gaze of a social communicator on one’s gaze and gaze-related physiological indices, when exposed to virtual reality based social situations. For this, we designed a usability study with 14 age-matched pairs of individuals with ASD and typically developing (TD) group. The results indicated that both Proximity and Eye-gaze can cause variations in one’s task performance, gaze pattern and gaze-related physiology for both ASD and TD groups, though by varying amounts.


Autism Virtual reality Eye-tracking Social Proximity Social Eye-gaze 



The authors wish to thank the Pearl Special Needs Foundation, Ahmedabad, Health and Care Foundation, Ahmedabad and Tanay Foundation, Ahmedabad for helping us in enrolling the participants in our study. Also we thank Cognitive Science Research Initiative under DST, India for partially funding this research. We would also like to express our gratitude to Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India for offering fellowship support to the researcher under Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Cognitive ScienceIndian Institute of Technology GandhinagarGandhinagarIndia
  2. 2.Electrical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology GandhinagarGandhinagarIndia

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