Conversational Agents
This research project aims at exploiting the advances in conversational technology to support people with Neurodevelopmental Disorder (NDD). NDD is a group of conditions that are characterized by severe deficits in the cognitive, emotional, and motor areas and produce severe impairments in communication and social functioning. In particular, we investigate the use of spoken Conversational Agents to mitigate the impairments of people with NDD related to the difficulty of recognizing and expressing emotions – a problem clinically referred to as Alexithymia.
The project is carried out in close collaboration with psychologists, neurological doctors, and caregivers who actively participated in eliciting the key requirements, evaluating iterative prototypes, and performing an empirical evaluation
The main result of this work is the web application called Emoty. Emoty is a voice-based Italian speaking Dialog System able to converse with the users in ordinary natural language and to entertain them with small talks and educational games. Emoty does not act as a virtual assistant for daily life support but aims at helping people with NDD to develop better emotional control and self-awareness, which would lead them to enhance their communication capabilities and consequently to improve their quality of life. Emoty exploits conversational technologies, Machine Learning and Deep Learning techniques for emotion recognition from the text and the voice based on the processing of user’s audio pitch.