Using Eye Tracking Technology to Enhance an Online Educational Game for Individuals With Autism

COIL is proud to have supported the Using Eye Tracking Technology to Enhance an Online Educational Game for Individuals With Autism project through our Research Initiation Grant Program.



A core feature of autism includes difficulty making eye contact and using eye gaze information to interpret the intentions of others. Traditionally, these deficits have been evaluated in laboratory settings using eye-tracking technology that is expensive and requires permanent installation. In this project, we propose to take advantage of new, low-cost eye-tracking technology (designed for home based entertainment use) and incorporate it into an online educational game, designed to teach social skills to adolescents with autism. The goal is to design new game content that will use this innovative technology to allow participants to control aspects of game play using their own eye gaze. This approach will foster learning of this critical social skill in the context of more naturalistic social interactions between players and game characters; in turn leading to greater skill generalization (e.g., new settings outside the game). We will conduct pilot and usability testing of the game to improve the delivery of the educational content. To accomplish these goals, we have assembled a world-class team of investigators with expertise in autism, interventions, eye tracking, and game design. The study has broad implications related to the use of eye tracking technology for home-based online learning and related educational applications.


  • Suzanne Scherf, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Elisabeth Whyte, Post-doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Psychology, Liberal Arts,
  • Matthew M. White, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, PSU Behrend
  • Joshua Smyth, Professor, Dept. of Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development
  • Charles Geier, Assistant Professor, Dept. of HDFS, College of Health and Human Development

Grants Pursued:

  • Submitted an R21/R33 grant for the “Exploratory clinical trials of novel interventions for mental disorders” RFA. This was submitted on February 19th, 2015. The total budget was approximately 1.5 million dollars for a 5 year phased award (2 years of the R21 phase and 3 years of the R33 phase). The scientific merit review for this funding round is in June, with an advisory council review date of October. If successful, this funding will allow us to test the effectiveness of our intervention.


Suzy Scherf HeadshotK. Suzanne Scherf
Assistant Professor, Psychology
College of the Liberal Arts

Moore Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 867 2921




  1. Amy Jones

    Please notify me of the developments in this program. I have a son with Autism and am always looking for ways to improve his social skills


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