Results presented of Project 5A - Autonomie per l’Autismo

The research was conducted by the I3LAB of Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with two prestigious therapeutic partners

The final presentation event of Project 5A - Autonomie per l’Autismo, Attraverso realtà virtuale, realtà Aumentata e Agenti conversazionali (Autonomy for Autism Across virtual reality, Augmented reality and Conversational Agents), took place on Friday 31 March.

At the end of two years of intense and exciting work, it was possible to find out about and test the innovative solutions developed as part of this research project, which was set up to strengthen the autonomy of people with ASDs (Autistic Spectrum Disorders), promote their social inclusion and improve their quality of life.

The 5A project involves the use of interactive applications usable anywhere and anytime via smartphones, tablets and wearable headsets, which integrate Immersive Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Conversational Agents and, by creating a continuum between training in the virtual world and experiences in the real world, help people with ASDs to understand the environmental and socio-organisational characteristics of everyday environments and to correctly perform the related activities. Benefits include not only improved abilities, but also emotional-psychological reinforcement and general well-being.


Research efforts focused on mobility in city spaces: the underground, trains, supermarkets, museums, libraries, hospitals, etc. The 5A Virtual Reality applications allow people to practise using public transport by 'immersing' themselves, using a headset, in a digital environment that simulates spaces and activities typically found when using trains and the underground. The 5A Augmented Reality applications support users while using public transport in the real world by generating, on tablets or smartphones, visual information that is superimposed over the view of the surroundings and helps people understand how to get around and what to do. Both applications involve a Conversational Agent which acts as a virtual companion and proactively converses with the user to guide them during both the simulation of public transport use and the real-world experience.

The 5A applications were co-designed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of engineers and interaction designers from Politecnico di Milano and autism specialists from the two clinical partners – Fondazione Sacra Famiglia and IRCCS E. Medea - Associazione La Nostra Famiglia.

The 5A project was carried out with the contribution of Fondazione TIM (Research call 'Free to communicate. Smart Technologies and Innovation for Autism') and the NRRP project MUSA (Multilayered Urban Sustainability Action/Spoke6 - Innovation for Sustainable and Inclusive Societies).