Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience often experience communication and interaction issues. Despite being frequent, this disorder is quite challenging to diagnose before the age of five.
Scientists at the University of Geneva now have come up with an AI algorithm based on the automated analysis of videos, making it possible to study children’s non-verbal communication in an anonymous and standardized manner.
Nada Kojovic, a researcher in Marie Schaer’s team and first author of the study, said, “Autism is characterized by a non-verbal communication that differs from that of a typically- developing child. It differs on several points, such as the difficulty in establishing eye contact, smiling, pointing to objects or the way they are interested in what surrounds them.”
“This is why we designed an algorithm using artificial intelligence that analyses the children’s movements on video and identifies whether or not they are characteristic of autism spectrum disorder.”
This new technology is easy to use. During experiments, it correctly classified 80% of cases from short videos showing a child with or without Autism under five playing with an adult.
The algorithm aims to classify videos based solely on the child’s movements when interacting with another person. To develop this, scientists first used a technology called OpenPose that extracts the skeletons of moving people as captured in a video and allows the analysis of gestures by removing all characteristics that could be discriminating.