ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Call: GHItaly17 – 1st Workshop on Games-Human Interaction

Call for Papers

GHItaly17 – 1st Workshop on Games-Human Interaction
In Conjunction with The 12th Edition of CHItaly,
the biannual Conference of the Italian SIGCHI Chapter

Deadline for submitting papers: May 28


The 1st Workshop on Games-Human Interaction (GHItaly 2017) aims at bringing together scholars and industry practitioners to establish a common ground on the topic. Main goal of the event is to spur discussion, exchange of ideas, and development of new ways of researching, teaching, and working on HCI applied to design and production of video games. The application range of video games has to be intended in its broadest sense: both entertainment and applied finalities.

GHItaly 2017 will be held in conjunction with the 12th Edition of CHItaly, the biannual Conference of the Italian ACM SIGCHI Chapter, from 18th to 20th of September 2017 in Cagliari.


The workshop aims at collecting contribution advancing the research applied to video games. Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Usability (also for special needs)
  • Biometric measures for interaction
  • Game Design & Level Design
  • Artificial Intelligence applied to Game and Level Design
  • Visualization techniques
  • Immersive VR systems
  • Social interaction in video games and virtual environments
  • Software architectures
  • Distributed and Online systems
  • Sensemaking
  • Agency of objects
  • Critical or meaningful play experience
  • Moral choices
  • Procedural rhetoric
  • Storytelling

Read more on Call: GHItaly17 – 1st Workshop on Games-Human Interaction…

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Nadia the chatbot: The rise of emotionally intelligent, lifelike customer service avatars

[Here’s a good example of the evolution of presence-evoking technology and (though it’s not discussed in this story from idealog), the obvious ethical issues it raises. The idealog story includes more pictures and two videos; MIT Technology Review’s coverage includes a 1:42 minute video of Nadia; and more information is available from the Soul Machines website. For a related story that raises some of the ethical issues, see “Can Alexa lie?” from Shelly Palmer’s blog. –Matthew]

Soul Machines unveils its first emotionally intelligent, lifelike avatar

By Elly Strang
17 Feb 2017

A Kiwi company at the forefront of humanising AI technology has revealed its first virtual assistant called ‘Nadia’, which has been voiced by actress Cate Blanchett.

Soul Machines is an Auckland-based company that develops intelligent, emotionally responsive avatars that improve the user experience on artificial intelligence platforms.

After receiving a $7.5 million investment from Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence and virtual reality investor, Horizon Ventures, the company formally launched in November last year.

Its technology is based on ‘Baby X’, a creation by Mark Sagar and his engineering research team at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland. Sagar is the CEO of Soul Machines.

Baby X is an emotionally intelligent virtual agent – and a digital simulation of an infant – which reacts to the person it’s communicating with via facial expressions and words in real time.

The technology is incredibly realistic, albeit quite disconcerting to some – as demonstrated by one comment on the Baby X Vimeo: “I think that as soon as the baby turned into a floating brain is when I realised that night-terrors would be in my near future.”

“Just about everybody who sees it is absolutely amazed that it’s actually a digital creation and not a video image of a baby,” Soul Machines chief business officer Greg Cross says.

Now, after a process of R&D of about five years, Nadia is the first commercial project to be launched with Baby X’s technology.

It was developed for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) in Australia using IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence technology as a cognitive back-end and FaceMe, an Auckland-based real-time video communication company.

Nadia can speak, write and chat online, and was created to help disabled people that traditionally struggle with technology interfaces have better accessibility to the company’s services. Read more on Nadia the chatbot: The rise of emotionally intelligent, lifelike customer service avatars…

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Call: Co-Creation Workshop (CCW 2017) at ICCC 2017


CCW 2017: Co-Creation Workshop
Workshop at ICCC 2017, the Eighth International Conference on Computational Creativity
June 19, Atlanta, GA
Workshop website:

Submit by April 21, 2017


The first Co-Creation Workshop (CCW 2017) will be hosted in Atlanta, GA at the International Conference on Computational Creativity on June 19, 2017. Co-creation is a new interdisciplinary research topic that asks questions related to human-computer interaction, computational creativity, and cognitive science. It investigates how two or more agents interact to produce emergent meaning and artifacts in a participatory process of meaning building (i.e. participatory sense-making). Collaboration is a powerful way to inspire and support human cognition. However, the same dynamism and flexibility that make collaboration and co-creation so effective, also unfortunately make it difficult to quantify, evaluate, and operationalize in co-creative agents. This workshop is designed to bring together researchers investigating technical, empirical, and theoretical aspects of co-creation to share insights on the unique challenges of this application domain.

We expect a mix of technical demo papers describing co-creative systems and empirical papers investigating co-creative systems or elements of co-creation, such as: agent-based interactive co-creation, towards intelligent co-creation, support for collaborative creativity, interaction modalities for co-creation, engagement principles for co-creation, simulation of co-creation, and models of co-creation. The workshop will emphasize engaging in hands-on co-creative activities and discussion to understand co-creation through shared experience using practice-based research methods. Attendees can expect to learn about new co-creative systems, research methods and tools for quantifying and evaluating co-creation, and cognitive theories to help understand and model co-creation. The workshop format will include: ~3 hours for participants to present submitted demo and research papers, an interactive demo session during which participants try out and discuss the co-creative systems, and a data analysis activity where participants use new research methods and tools to quantify their experience with the co-creative systems at the workshop. Read more on Call: Co-Creation Workshop (CCW 2017) at ICCC 2017…

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New technology lets you and doctors experience your eye in VR

[This short story from Quartz describes an intriguing use of virtual reality and presence: data from scans of a person’s eye are used to produce an interactive VR experience that doctors can experience together for collaborative diagnosis and treatment, and patients can use to better understand their condition. The scan data can also be used to print a 3D version of the eye. See the original Quartz story for a 1:32 minute video, and the Wellcome Image Awards website for more information including profiles of the team that developed the technique and a different 1:52 minute video (a 4:15 minute version of that video is available on YouTube). –Matthew]

Read more on New technology lets you and doctors experience your eye in VR…

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Call: Safe Human-Robot Collaboration session at ETFA 2017

Call for Papers

Special Session – SS07. Safe Human-Robot Collaboration
22nd IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies And Factory Automation (ETFA 2017)
September 12-15, 2017, Limassol, Cyprus

Deadline for submission of special sessions papers: April 9, 2017

The special session is promoted within the FourByThree project ( – FoF H2020) and is organized in synergy within the “Track 7 – Intelligent Robots & Systems” of ETFA 2017. Industrial robots have previously demonstrated their excellence in industrial applications requiring dexterity, accuracy and efficiency. This is especially the case for large production batches, repetitive operations, and risky or unpleasant working conditions. However, when collaboration between robots and workers is required, including working in a shared space, it is often not feasible to use standard robots due to safety concerns. Safe robotic products have appeared on the market, but they lack flexibility (e.g., in terms of possible physical configurations) or are often prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, currently available collaborative robots are offered as isolated products. They are limited by fixed, rigid programming mechanisms, and do not come with integrated, rich perception capabilities or adequate responsive behaviours. This special session aims to gather contributions in human-robot collaboration that respond to the challenge of creating new technologies and robotic solutions based on innovative hardware and software enforcing efficiency and safety. Such solutions should address real industrial needs providing suitable applications in possible human-robot scenarios in a given workplace without physical fences, i.e., coexistence (human and robot conduct independent activities) and collaboration (they work collaboratively to achieve a given goal).

This special session will be focusing on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • How safe are today’s robots to allow human-robot interaction in shared workspaces?
  • What are the best technologies currently available to achieve safe robots?
  • Human perspective (including trust towards and acceptance of robotic systems);
  • How can planning and scheduling be applied to the safe human-robot interaction problem?
  • What role do validity, verification and dependability play in safe human-robot interactions?
  • Long-term autonomy in human-robot collaborative scenarios;

Read more on Call: Safe Human-Robot Collaboration session at ETFA 2017…

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Catch a virtual ball: Disney Research tech lets you interact with real objects in virtual reality

[Disney Research has taken another intriguing step toward compelling presence illusions; this story from Gizmodo (where it includes a 2:47 minute video) outlines some of the applications, and coverage in Mashable goes further: “if you really want to go long on futurecasting, this may also be an early look at a real Star Trek holodeck, a fictional room that allows users to feel real impacts from virtual objects. Whether we get there through haptic feedback suits, real world object tracking, or perhaps a combination of the two, Disney Research’s experiment is yet another indication that we’re just at the beginning of a number of exciting experiments in VR that may help it become, as many are predicting, the final computing platform.” For more information see the press release via EurekAlert! and the Disney Research website. –Matthew]

Watch This Guy Catch a Virtual Reality Ball That Turns Out to Be Real

Andrew Liszewski
March 20, 2017

When you strap on all of the gear required for a modern, immersive, virtual reality experience, you’re all but completely blind to the real world. But interacting with real world objects can often enhance a virtual experience, so Disney’s researchers came up with a way to let users catch a real ball without leaving a VR world.

Simply catching and throwing a tennis ball doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling use of virtual reality, not when you can strap into a roller coaster or battle aliens on a far-away world. But imagine the feeling of grabbing an alien’s tentacle when you engage in hand-to-hand combat. That’s the ultimate goal of research like this, adding a tactile feeling to what’s being experienced in a virtual reality simulation. Read more on Catch a virtual ball: Disney Research tech lets you interact with real objects in virtual reality…

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Call: PervasiveHealth 2017 (Posters and Demos)

Call for Posters and Demos – PervasiveHealth 2017
23 – 26 May 2017, Barcelona, Spain

Important Dates

  • Submission deadline: 31st March 2017 (5:00pm PST)
  • Notification of acceptance: 21st April 2017
  • Camera-ready deadline: 1st May 2017


The 11th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, PervasiveHealth 2017, invites proposals that address innovative and important topics related to the application of pervasive technologies in the field of healthcare. This call is divided into two categories: Posters and Demos.

POSTERS aim at reporting on the progress of ongoing research and insights into the lessons learned from current (industrial, practitioners, government, etc.) pervasive healthcare practice. Posters invite a wide range of topics and types of work including formative or summative evaluations, methodologies, technological innovation, and design in the area of pervasive health. A shorter version of published work will be rejected. We encourage the authors to use the Posters venue as a way to open up discussions with the Pervasive Health community about their early work in progress and develop the work for future publication and innovation.

DEMOS will showcase the latest developments and prototypes related to the topics of interest of the conference. We seek proposals for demonstrations of pervasive technologies across the full environment of healthcare, starting from clinical applications to wearable, ambient and home based health monitoring technologies up to assistive devices and educational or motivational aids. The expected demo submissions should describe the technical details of the demo alongside its contribution to the pervasive healthcare domain.


Posters and Demos provide authors an opportunity to demonstrate or present their work, including research, service, prototype or product addressing one or more of the suggested topics as presented in the general call for participation. A successful submission communicates ideas and concepts in a powerful way that a regular presentation cannot. All accepted submissions are showcased during the conference, where the presenters have the ability to interact with the conference attendees, and showcase their work and technologies. We therefore encourage making your presentation visually or otherwise appealing and presenting it in an innovative way.

We welcome contributions from the following fields:

  • Sensing/Actuating Technologies and Pervasive Computing
  • Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions
  • Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
  • Hardware and Software Infrastructures

Read more on Call: PervasiveHealth 2017 (Posters and Demos)…

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Mathematicians create warped worlds in virtual reality

[This story from Nature describes the potential of presence to lead to new discoveries in mathematics; the original version includes another image, two videos, and references; for much more information about the project see eleVR’s website. –Matthew]

Mathematicians create warped worlds in virtual reality

Immersive experience set to become accessible to all.

Davide Castelvecchi
21 March 2017

“It feels like the entire universe is within a sphere that is maybe within a couple metres’ radius,” says topologist Henry Segerman at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He is describing, not an LSD trip, but his experience of exploring a curved universe in which the ordinary rules of geometry do not apply.

Segerman and his collaborators have released software allowing anyone with a virtual-reality (VR) headset to wander through this warped world, which they previewed last month in two papers on the preprint server.

To explore the mathematical possibilities of alternative geometries, mathematicians imagine such ‘non-Euclidean’ spaces, where parallel lines can intersect or veer apart. Now, with the help of relatively affordable VR devices, researchers are making curved spaces — a counter-intuitive concept with implications for Einstein’s theory underlying gravity and also for seismology — more accessible. They may even uncover new mathematics in the process.

“You can think about it, but you don’t get a very visceral sense of this until you actually experience it,” says Elisabetta Matsumoto, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Read more on Mathematicians create warped worlds in virtual reality…

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Call: AIIDE-17, the Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainments

Call for Papers

AIIDE-17 – Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainments
October 5-9, 2017
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Snowbird, Utah

Submission Site:
Submission Deadlines: May 1 (Workshop / Tutorial Proposals), May 25 (Papers / Demos / Doctoral Consortium / Playable Experiences)

Hello everyone!

I am writing on behalf of this year’s AIIDE organizing committee to invite y’all to participate in the Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainments, to be held in Snowbird, Utah, October 5 – 9.

AIIDE-17 provides a meeting place for academic AI researchers and professional software developers to discuss the latest advances in entertainment-focused AI. The conference has a long-standing history of featuring research on artificial intelligence in computer games. We also invite researchers, developers, and digital artists to share ideas on topics at the intersection of all forms of entertainment and artificial intelligence broadly. AIIDE-17 will feature invited speakers, paper sessions, workshops, tutorials, playable experiences, panels, posters, AI competitions, a reception, and a doctoral consortium. AIIDE-17 is sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).

SPECIAL TOPIC: “Beyond Games”

This year, the AIIDE conference will feature a special topic of “Beyond Games.” In addition to general topics of interest in Game AI, we welcome submissions featuring innovative forms of interactive digital entertainment, including but not limited to human-robot interaction, computer music, generative art, AI-based humor, physical computing, procedural animation, and digital improvisation. The special topic will also connect to keynote speakers, panels, paper sessions, and other aspects of the conference program.

Please review the Call for Papers for detailed submission instructions at Read more on Call: AIIDE-17, the Thirteenth Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainments…

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Start VR and Australia hospital using presence to provide distraction from chemotherapy

[Most of the press coverage of this important application of presence is drawn from the Samsung press release below, which includes a 4:43 minute video. More information on the project is available from Start VR, and an excerpt from coverage in The Australian about the origins of the project follows the press release below. –Matthew]

Start VR Introduces Virtual Reality to Chemotherapy Patient Program at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

Australia on March 07, 2017

Sydney based virtual reality studio Start VR have collaborated with Samsung Australia and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to develop a ground-breaking initiative to supply Samsung virtual reality (VR) technology to help alleviate stress for diagnosed oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

The project showcases the potential for VR to be used as a tool to help ease psychological stress and provide a form of “distraction therapy” during typically arduous chemotherapy treatments. Patients were provided with Samsung Gear VR headsets and the option to select an experience either from the Gear VR store or Start VR’s catalogue of content. Experiences ranged from transporting patients to a relaxing travel destination, plunging off an airplane in a skydiving stimulating experience, taking a boat ride through the Sydney Harbour, snorkeling through sparkling blue waters and petting Koalas at a zoo.

The initiative was spearheaded by Start VR’s Head of Content Martin Taylor, who collaborated with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Samsung Australia to bring the partnership to life. Read more on Start VR and Australia hospital using presence to provide distraction from chemotherapy…

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