Emoty: an Emotionally Sensitive Conversational Agent for People with Neurodevelopmental Disorders

AbstractOur research 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. This paper presents the design, technology and exploratory evaluation of Emoty, a spoken Conversational Agent (CA) created specifically for individuals with NDD. The goal of Emoty is to help these persons enhancing communication abilities related to emotional recognition and expression, which are fundamental in any form of human relationship. The system exploits emotion detection capabilities based on the semantics of the speech by calling the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer API and from the harmonic features of the audio thanks to an “all-of-us” Deep Learning model. The design and evaluation of Emoty are based on the close collaboration among computer engineers and specialists in NDD (psychologists, neurological doctors, educators).

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