SimSensei, a Kinect-driven avatar system, which is capable of tracking and analyzing telltale signs of psychological distress, is being developed by American researchers.
Created by Stefan Scherer and his colleagues from University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, the avatar psychologist uses facial recognition technology and a depth-sensing camera to read an individual's facial movements, body movements, posture, linguistic patterns and acoustics to screen for depression, Discovery News reported.
Scherer said that usually broad screening is done by using only a checklist of yes/no questions or point scales, but all the non-verbal behavior is not taken into account, this is where the team would like to put their avatar to work.
For their study, scientists used Kinect to record interviews, as volunteers responded to questions asked by "Ellie," the avatar psychologist.
Depressed people, who participated in the study smiled less, averted their gaze and fidgeted more than those who were not depressed all of which was detected by avatar's system.