Social Imaging

What is Social Imaging?
A Technology to Identify and Represent Social Behaviors


Technologies which visualize biological functions and behaviors that cannot be seen from the outside are called “imaging”. For example, in medicine, “brain imaging” visualizes the functions of the brain. Furthermore, new sensing technologies have brought development to studies about measurement and analysis of human behavior. Following this trend, “behavior imaging” has been proposed as a new computational behavior science including the measurement of a personal viewpoint, and commercial software has been put on the market. These are new imaging technologies that are focusing on the individual. In our study, we use not only imaging diagnostics but also wearable devices in order to measure interactions (group dynamics) and the physical and physiological signals of the emotions caused by these interactions. New technologies to identify and represent social interactions such as facial expressions, and emotions by making use of those signals, are called “social imaging”.  The measured social behaviors are stored in an AI information processing system as personal data, which includes physiological, cognitive, and behavioral characteristics.

Our goal is to provide long-term support for autistic children who have social impairments, and to evaluate the effects of this support. There is a high demand in society for the establishment of an effective developmental support method (system) for autistic children, who comprise one in 68 children. It is known that autistic children have difficulty in social interactions involving understanding and using facial expressions. Therefore, support of social interaction at the early stage of children’s lives has drawn considerable attention in the field of child development and mentality, especially in the United States and in the United Kingdom. However, even though there have been several studies about motivations for facial expressions and communication towards people, and also about individual behavioral characteristics, such as body contact with other people, it is difficult to carry out objective evaluations. Moreover, only a few studies have analyzed in detail what kind of function, in what way improves, with what kind of appropriate support, since it is not easy to make quantitative measurements in daily lives and at school.

In order to understand these kinds of behaviors, brain imaging alone, which reveals the structural and functional characteristics of each person’s brain, and behavior imaging, which tries to understand each person’s behavior, are inadequate. It is indispensable to consider “social imaging”, whose aim is understanding people’s social behaviors. One of our goals is to establish a developmental support system especially for autistic children. Deeper insight into their behavior, and elucidating the development of social interaction among people at the early stage of their lives, is very significant for learning social skills such as joint attention, imitation, language understanding, and understanding the development of communication skills.

In this study, we aim to elucidate the environmental conditions in which autistic children can demonstrate their abilities to the fullest, and to the establishment of an inclusive developmental support system, where we support forming creativity and sociality including cognitive functions and language functions. By applying to the site the evidence-based developmental support method, and proving its effectiveness, we are directed to the implementation in society of early concentrated habilitation.