Lakeland University graduate applauded for research project on robots and autism

NOW: Lakeland University graduate applauded for research project on robots and autism

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PLYMOUTH, Wis. (CBS 58) – A local college graduate is being applauded for her research project with robots.

Abby Juozapaitis created programs aimed to help people with autism better understand and express emotions.

Juozapaitis graduated from Lakeland University in December 2020, but her professor, Cindy Lindstrom, believes her work will have a long-lasting impact.

“I started looking into how to use emotion detection and how to use gaze analysis and stuff like that so I could help someone who would have autism,” Juozapaitis said.

Juozapaitis worked with a robot named Pepper. Similar robots are currently being used in places like restaurants and airports to take orders or help direct people, but Juozapaitis wanted to focus on communication. She created programs for Pepper to recognize human emotions and focused her project on how robots can help college-aged students with autism.

“It's about using technology to help, like a medicine of sorts, it’s a therapy, it’s an aid,” Lakeland University Associate Professor of Computer Science Cindy Lindstrom said. “This research could help students understand when they’re frowning all the time what kind of response they’re going to invoke from somebody else or if you’re smiling.”

Juozapaitis is now working, but hopes she or someone else can continue the research.

“This will be something in the future,” Lindstrom said. “It’s going to be.”

Both Lindstrom and Juozapaitis said they hope more people will be open to using technology as a possible therapy and resource.

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