Using virtual robot-mediated play activities to assess cognitive skills

Pedro Encarnação, Liliana Alvarez, Adriana Rios, Catarina Maya, Kim Adams, Al Cook*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility of using virtual robot-mediated play activities to assess cognitive skills. Method: Children with and without disabilities utilized both a physical robot and a matching virtual robot to perform the same play activities. The activities were designed such that successfully performing them is an indication of understanding of the underlying cognitive skills. Results: Participants' performance with both robots was similar when evaluated by the success rates in each of the activities. Session video analysis encompassing participants' behavioral, interaction and communication aspects revealed differences in sustained attention, visuospatial and temporal perception, and self-regulation, favoring the virtual robot. Conclusions: The study shows that virtual robots are a viable alternative to the use of physical robots for assessing children's cognitive skills, with the potential of overcoming limitations of physical robots such as cost, reliability and the need for on-site technical support.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-241
    Number of pages11
    JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2014


    • Augmented manipulation
    • Cognitive skills assessment
    • Virtual robots


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