LIFEisGAME: A Facial Character Animation System to Help Recognize Facial Expressions

  • Tiago Fernandes
  • Samanta Alves
  • José Miranda
  • Cristina Queirós
  • Verónica Orvalho
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 221)


This article presents the LIFEisGAME project, a serious game that will help children with ASDs to recognize and express emotions through facial expressions. The game design tackles one of the main experiential learning cycle of emotion recognition: recognize and mimic (game mode: build a face). We describe the technology behind the game, which focus on a character animation pipeline and a sketching algorithm. We detailed the facial expression analyzer that is used to calculate the score in the game. We also present a study that analyzes what type of characters children prefer when playing a game. Last, we present a pilot study we have performed with kids with ASD.


autism spectrum disorder emotions serious games facial animation emotion recognition HCI consumer health informatics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Van Hecke, A.V., Denver, J.W., Porges, S.W.: Emotion recognition in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 40, 358–370 (2009), doi:10.1007/510803-009-0884-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tanaka, J.W., Wolf, J.M., Klaiman, C., Koenig, K., Cockburn, J., Herlihy, L., Schultz, R.T.: Using computerized games to teach face recognition skills to children with autism spectrum disorder: The Let’s Face It! program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2258, 1–12 (2010)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Behrmann, M., Avidan, G., Leonard, G.L., Kimchi, R., Luna, B., Humphreys, K., et al.: Configural processing in autism and its relationship to face processing. Neuropsychologia 44, 110–129 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tantam, D., Monaghan, L., Nicholson, H., Stirling, J.: Autistic children’s ability to interpret faces: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 30, 623–630 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wallace, S., Coleman, M., Bailey, A.: Face and object processing in autism spectrum disorders. Autism Research 51, 43–51, 299-316 (2008)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baron-Cohen, S., Golan, O., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J.J.: Mind Reading: the interactive guide to emotions. Jessica Kingsley Limited, London (2004), Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Golan, O., Baron-Cohen, S., Ashwin, E., Granader, Y., MacClintock, S., Day, K., et al.: Enhancing emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum conditions: An intervention using animated vehicles with real emotional faces. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (in press)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rump, K.M., Giovennelli, J.L., Mishew, R.N., Strauss, M.S.: The Development of Emotion Recognition in Individuals With Autism. Child Development 80(5), 1434–1447 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Silver, M., Oakes, P.: Evaluation of a new computer intervention to teach people with autism or Asperger Syndrome to recognize and predict emotions in others. Autism, 5 (2001)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Golan, O., Baron-Cohen, S.: Systemizing empathy: Teaching adults with Asperger syndrome or High Functioning Autism to recognise complex emotions using interactive multimedia. Development and Psychopathology 18, 591–617 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Barry, T., Klinger, L., Lee, L., Palardy, N., Gilmore, T., Bodin, S.: Examining the effectiveness of an outpatient clinic-based social skills group for high-functioning children with autism. J. of Autism and Developmental Disorders 33(37), 685–701 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Eckman, P., Friesen, W.: Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. J. Personality and Social Psychology 17(2), 124–129 (1971)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Falk, R., Minter, D., Vernon, C., Aretos, G., Modesto, L., Lamorlette, A., Walker, N., Cheung, T., Rentel-Lavin, J., Max, H.: Art-directed technology: anatomy of a Shrek2 sequence. In: Proc. of SIGGRAPH 2004: SIGGRAPH 2004 Course Notes, p. 13 (2004)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Matthews, Baker, S.: Active appearance models revisited. Int. J. of Computer Vision 60(2), 135–164 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Langner, O., Dotsch, R., Bijlstra, G., Wigboldus, D.H., Hawk, S.T., Van Knippenberg, A.: Presentation and validation of the Radboud Faces Database. Cognition and Emotion 24(8), 1377–1388 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rutherford, M.D., McIntosh, D.N.: Rules versus prototype matching: Strategies of perception of emotional facial expressions in the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37, 187–196 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Miranda, J.C., Blanco, X.A., Sousa, A.A., Gutierrez, D., Orvalho, J., Orvalho, V.: Painting on canvas: a facial sketching control system. Poster/demo session at ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symp. on Computer Animation, New Orleans, LA (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Human Emotion Detection from Image (2010),
  19. 19.
    Kolb, D.A.: Experiential Learning. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs (1984)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Abirached, B., Aggarwal, J., Costa, T., Fernandes, T., Orvalho, V., Tamersoy, B., Zhang, Y.: Improving Communication Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) through Interaction with Virtual Characters (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiago Fernandes
    • 1
    • 5
  • Samanta Alves
    • 2
  • José Miranda
    • 3
    • 5
  • Cristina Queirós
    • 2
  • Verónica Orvalho
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto de TelecomunicaçõesLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Psicologia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto Politécnico da GuardaPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  5. 5.Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

Personalised recommendations