Dr. Zikai Alex Wen aims to leverage AI and digital games to support students with specific learning disabilities (SLDs). These students generally face difficulties in reading, writing, and calculating. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that this group of students accounts for approximately 10% of all K-12 students (translating to 2 or 3 students in every classroom). However, these students are often mistaken as careless or lazy because of the lack of professional special education experts or suitable educational technology. Therefore, Zikai has been addressing the critical needs for inclusive education through AI and digital games innovations: enables AI-empowered SLDs detection for students and provides general education teachers learning interventions that are customizable and engaging.

His current research outcomes have been accepted as posters: one at ACM CHI PLAY 2022 and two at ACM ASSETS 2022. The CHI PLAY conference is to highlight and foster discussion of current high-quality research in games and HCI as a foundation for the future of digital play. CHI PLAY is sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group for Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). The ASSETS conference is the premier forum for presenting research on the design, evaluation, use, and education related to computing for people with disabilities and older adults. ASSETS is rated as Core A —a designation for the top academic conferences that are "highly respected in a discipline area" (Core A; Top 16%).  

  • "CollectiAR: Computer Vision-Based Word Hunt for Children with Dyslexia" at CHI PLAY 2022
    *Danlu Fei, a CMA first-year Ph.D. student, is the first author of this paper. Ze Gao, a CMA second-year Ph.D. candidate, is the second author of this paper.
    The existing word recognition and spelling training games for children with dyslexia were not able to leverage children's immediate vicinity. Therefore, we designed an augmented reality mobile game, CollectiAR, that uses computer vision to identify objects in the player's immediate vicinity and direct the player to learn words for these objects.
  • "Designing a Game for Pre-Screening Students with Specific Learning Disabilities in Chinese" at ASSETS 2022
    The SLDs pre-screening is crucial because the golden period for therapy is before six years old. However, many students in Hong Kong receive SLDs assessments after the golden period. Also, the SLDs pre-screening is challenging, especially in a language with the logographic script but without prominent sound-script correspondence (e.g., Chinese, Japanese). To make pre-screening SLDs in Chinese more effective and efficient, we designed a new comprehensive pre-screening game for SLDs in Chinese (i.e., dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia). Notably, we designed a Chinese morphological awareness puzzle that challenges students to recognize different words made up of the first character that is identical and the second character that is different.
  • "Designing a Data Visualization Dashboard for Pre-Screening Hong Kong Students with Specific Learning Disabilities" at ASSETS 2022
    Although there are screening tools for students with SLDs in Chinese and Indo-European languages (e.g., English and Spanish), they did not provide a student data visualization dashboard that could help teachers speed up the pre-screening process. Therefore, we co-designed a new visualization dashboard with Hong Kong SENCOs and special-ed teachers to assist them in pre-screening students with SLDs. Our current design met teachers' need to quickly identify a student's specific under-performing tasks and effectively collect evidence about how the student was affected by SLDs.

Zikai Alex Wen is a postdoctoral fellow interested in human-centered AI, usable security and privacy, and entertainment technology. He received his Computer Science PhD degree from Cornell University. His research focuses on designing and building interactive and playful AI systems to enhance human abilities. Website Link: http://zkwen.info/

Danlu Fei is a Ph.D. student in CMA, HKUST GZ. She graduated from McGill Univerisity, majoring in CS - Game Development and minoring in Music Technology Application. Before she started her Ph.D study at HKUST, She interned in Ubisoft, Behaviour Interactive, Netease as a Gameplay Programmer. Her interest is in areas related to indie game development, including level design, visual design, and narrative design. Website Link: https://cma.hkust-gz.edu.cn/research-students/danlu-fei-6/

Ze Gao has recently been a Ph.D. candidate in Computational Media and Arts (CMA) and Lab of Extended Reality and Immersive Media (XRIM) in HKUST. He is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and media art researcher based in New York and Hong Kong. He studied Multidisciplinary Fine Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art and held an MFA with honor in the School of Visual Arts in New York. His research was published on the ACM Multimedia, ACM ICMI and ISEA, etc. mainly in Emerging Technologies and New Media Art. Mr. Gao’s photography, augmented reality, motion capture performance, and interactive video installation have been showcased internationally in China, North America, and Europe. Website Link: http://www.zegaoart.com