ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: March 2018

Job: Lecturer in Computer Games in Department of Computing at Macquarie University, Australia

The Computing Department at Macquarie University is looking to hire a new person to grow our Game Design and Development program. I’m the Program Director and I’m happy to answer any questions. Full details are available at:

–Malcolm Ryan (malcolm.ryan@MQ.EDU.AU)

Lecturer in Computer Games
Macquarie University
Sydney, Australia
Faculty/Office: Department of Computing, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Applications Close: Saturday, 19 May 2018


The Department of Computing is the home of more than 30 academic staff and more than 70 research students, and an ever-growing cohort of undergraduates and postgraduate coursework students. The department offers a broad range of cutting edge undergraduate and postgraduate courses and enjoys a strong research ethos.

We are inviting top applicants for a continuing position at the Lecturer level.  The position will be based in the Department of Computing, Faculty of Science and Engineering.  The appointee will contribute to the research and teaching in the broad areas of videogames and interactivity. The successful candidate will actively contribute to research within the scope of the Games and Interactivity Group in the Department of Computing at Macquarie University. Teaching responsibilities of the position will be particularly focussed on our Bachelor of Information Technology – Games Design and Development, including in units in both game design and technical programming/software engineering. The appointee will also contribute to administrative and other academic activities within the Department of Computing.

We are particularly seeking applicants with strong track records in one or more of the following areas:

  • Game Analytics
  • Game Design
  • Computer Games Technology
  • Computer Graphics
  • Virtual/Augmented Reality
  • Artificial Intelligence for Computer Games
  • User Experience in VR, AR and/or Videogames

SELECTION CRITERIA Read more on Job: Lecturer in Computer Games in Department of Computing at Macquarie University, Australia…

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Virtual reality puts physicians, trainees – even you – right in the operating room

[It’s certainly not the first use of presence-evoking technologies for medical, even surgical, training but this story from the University of Virginia emphasizes the ease of use, low cost, soon-to-be wide availability and important benefits of VR recordings of surgeries for a variety of audiences. The linked video clip mentioned near the end of the story is only 30 seconds long, but for more information and a 9 minute video see the PR Newswire press release. –Matthew]

[Image: Dr. Ziv Haskal has created a virtual procedure that puts the viewer right in the operating room with him. Credit: Josh Barney, UVA Health System]

Virtual Reality Puts Physicians, Trainees – Even You – Right In The Operating Room

March 19, 2018
Josh Barney

Physicians, trainees and even laypeople can now experience what it’s like inside an operating room as an expert radiologist performs one of the most difficult medical procedures of its kind.

Dr. Ziv Haskal of the University of Virginia Health System has created a dramatic teaching tool using the power of virtual reality. Whether watched on a high-end VR system or an inexpensive cardboard viewer, Haskal’s virtual procedure puts the viewer right in the operating room with him as he creates a new blood vessel through a small nick in a patient’s neck.

It’s a complicated procedure – Haskal calls it an “interventional radiology heptathlon” – and his use of VR is set to transform how it is taught. “The current means of teaching is a physical person has to arrive … and go over with the doc beforehand. Or they have to look at a lousy 2-D animation on a screen,” Haskal said. “Once you put [VR] glasses on people, it’s like you walk them through a completely different door.” Read more on Virtual reality puts physicians, trainees – even you – right in the operating room…

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Call: Emotional Machines: Perspectives from Affective Computing and Emotional Human-Machine Interaction (Springer anthology)

[See also August 2017 call for conference submissions in ISPR Presence News. –Matthew]

Call for contributions to the anthology “Emotional Machines. Perspectives from Affective Computing and Emotional Human-Machine Interaction”

Accepted by Springer, Series Futures of Technology, Science and Society

Editors: Catrin Misselhorn and Maike Klein

Submission deadline of extended abstracts: 30 April 2018

Humans have emotions, machines do not. This seems to be a truism: Human beings are made of flesh and blood; they do not just act rationally but impulsively and emotionally. They make decisions, feel attracted to objects or subjects or repelled by them. They mourn others, are in a good mood or suffer from depression. But what about machines? At first glance machines and emotions seem to be at odds with each other. We program machines and they calculate without any emotions. However, if we take a closer look, things are not so clear: machines are today able to recognize and react to emotions, and according to their designers some even possess emotions.

Interdisciplinary research on emotions in machines has been divided until now in two branches of research which have so far been largely unrelated: affective computing and emotional human-machine interaction. By associating these two branches and by combining technological perspectives with the humanities and social sciences, we hope to provide a forum for research on machines that are supposed to be equipped with emotions and/or are capable of interacting emotionally with humans. In our edited volume “Emotional Machines”, we aim to reunite approaches from disciplines such as philosophy, computer science, engineering, psychology, sociology, design and the arts.

Papers can address questions related to the topic from various perspectives, for instance: Read more on Call: Emotional Machines: Perspectives from Affective Computing and Emotional Human-Machine Interaction (Springer anthology)…

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Facebook wins patent for robot that may one day follow you around at home

[Facebook has patented a design for a two or three legged robot that would likely have telepresence capabilities; since it’s Facebook, much of the coverage raises privacy concerns. This story is from CNN, where the original includes a second image. –Matthew]

Facebook robots may one day follow you around at home

by Matt McFarland
March 6, 2018

Your future Instagram pictures could be taken by a Facebook-branded robot that follows you around the house.

That is, if a newly awarded Facebook patent ever becomes a reality.

The company received a patent on Tuesday for a self-balancing robot that’s capable of standing on either two or three legs. The concept resembles a telepresence robot, complete with a screen, camera and microphone.

The patent states the robot may have other abilities such as carrying cargo and a cooling system to control its temperature.

It’s unclear what Facebook might do with a telepresence robot, but the potential is vast. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A self-balancing robot could be used to expand its video conferencing offerings. Facebook has offered video calls on Messenger since 2015. With video conferencing on a telepresence robot, a friend could virtually follow you around your home while carrying on a conversation.

A robot in the home could also be used to autonomously take photos and videos for Facebook’s suite of content sharing platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Read more on Facebook wins patent for robot that may one day follow you around at home…

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Call: Future Technologies Conference 2018

Call for Papers

FTC 2018 – Future Technologies Conference 2018
15-16 November 2018
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Paper Submissions Due: 01 April 2018


The Future Technologies Conference presents the best of current systems research and practice, emphasizing innovation and quantified experience. FTC has emerged as the foremost world-wide gathering of academic researchers, Ph.D. and graduate students, top research think tanks and industry technology developers.

Join us for FTC 2018, the world’s pre-eminent forum for reporting technological breakthroughs in the areas of Computing, Electronics, AI, Robotics, Security and Communications.

The 2017 and 2016 conferences successfully brought together technology geniuses in one venue to not only present breakthrough research in future technologies but to also promote practicality and applications and an intra- and inter-field exchange of ideas.

CONFERENCE TRACKS Read more on Call: Future Technologies Conference 2018…

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Can VR and presence help stop sexual harassment in the workplace?

[Presence may be a powerful force for addressing the timely and much too common problem of sexual harassment. This story is from Los Angeles Magazine, where the original includes three other pictures; more information is available on the Vantage Point Indiegogo page and in coverage available via the Press page on the company’s website. –Matthew]

Can Virtual Reality Help Stop Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

An L.A.-based entrepreneur and sexual violence-survivor is bringing a fresh solution to life

March 19, 2018
Liz Ohanesian

I’m a silent presence inside a tidy office, observing as one woman and two men work into the evening. The boss enters the room and he’s quickly impressed with the woman’s work. There’s something in the way he’s behaving, though, that’s unsettling. He mentions wanting to take her on an upcoming trip to New York. She says that she can stay with her sister, but he answers that this won’t be feasible. Meanwhile, covertly sent texts pop up on my phone. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks there’s something strange about this exchange—but how do we respond?

This isn’t your typical anti-sexual harassment training session. It’s Vantage Point, an immersive approach to teaching people how to identify and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Unlike videos, Vantage Point—a 360-degree virtual reality experience—thrusts the user into the middle of a scenario, essentially pop quizzing them on whether or not they can recognize harassment as it unfolds, as well as how they, even as a bystander, would handle the situation.

Morgan Mercer, a two-time survivor of sexual violence, conceived of Vantage Point after a conversation about responses to gender-based violence. “It’s almost a failure in society because we’re not really educating people on how to be supportive community members,” she says. Mercer could see that virtual reality has the potential to help people learn to empathize with one another. Moreover, Mercer saw VR as a space where people could confront their own biases.

“I realized that virtual reality quite literally has the ability to place you in another person’s shoes,” she says. “And that, to me, clicked as being the perfect medium to maybe question you on some biases that you didn’t know that you had.” Read more on Can VR and presence help stop sexual harassment in the workplace?…

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Call: “Collaboration in Mixed-Reality” for Frontiers in Robotics and AI

Call for Papers: “Collaboration in Mixed-Reality” for Frontiers in Robotics and AI

In collaboration with the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI, section Virtual Environments we are organizing an article collection on “Collaboration in Mixed-Reality” (Guest Editors: Anthony Steed, Gregory Francis Welch, Thierry Duval).

The aim of this project is to bring together international experts to provide a comprehensive view of this topic. Would you like to participate as a contributing author?

The full description of this project can be found here:

The submission deadline is Sep 30, 2018.

Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and, if accepted for publication, will be free to access for all readers, and indexed in relevant repositories.

A longer scope can be found below my signature.

Can you please kindly indicate whether you would like to participate using the links provided here?

YES – I would like to participate

MAYBE – tell me more
Please contact me at, I will be glad to send you more information.

NO – I am unable to participate in this project

Below my signature you will find some additional information. If you have any questions on the project, please let me know.

I look forward to your reply.

With best regards,

Anthony Steed
Associate Editor, Virtual Environments Read more on Call: “Collaboration in Mixed-Reality” for Frontiers in Robotics and AI…

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Virtual reality takes terminal cancer patients to dream places

[This story from Asahi Shimbun describes a very positive and meaningful use of presence. The original story includes a second image. –Matthew]

[Image: A virtual reality device used in the clinical study is demonstrated at the Ashiya Municipal Hospital in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The image shown on the personal computer screen is also displayed inside the goggle. (Credit: Akiyoshi Abe)]

Virtual reality takes terminal cancer patients to dream places

By AKIYOSHI ABE/ Staff Writer
March 19, 2018

ASHIYA, Hyogo Prefecture–Cancer patients in a palliative care unit at a hospital here are ticking off their “bucket list” destinations or attending events that are otherwise impossible to reach by using a virtual reality headset.

The experience, a limited provision at the Ashiya Municipal Hospital as part of a health-care research project, has largely been seen as a positive experience by recipients.

Hospital officials are hoping the practice will help improve the patients’ quality of life in their final days. Read more on Virtual reality takes terminal cancer patients to dream places…

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Call: Social Experiences of Film, Film Experiences of Sociality – New Approaches in Film-Philosophy

Call for conference papers

Social Experiences of Film | Film Experiences of Sociality
New Approaches in Film-Philosophy
14-15 June 2018, New Europe College Institute for Advanced Study (Bucharest)

Keynote speakers:

  • Julian Hanich (Univ. of Groningen, The Netherlands)
    Author of The Audience Effect: On the Collective Cinema Experience (Edinburgh UP, 2017)
  • Rupert Read (Univ. of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
    Author of Film as Freedom: Ecology and Enlightenment in Cinema (Routledge, forthcoming)

Extended deadline for abstract submission: 1 April 2018

Attempts at theorizing film have long stressed the potential of this medium to generate new forms of intersubjectivity and of sociality. In early film theoretical accounts like Béla Balázs’, for instance, the silent cinema’s emphasis on facial and gestural expressivity was praised for bringing about a novel “visibility of man”. At the same time, Walter Benjamin noted that film viewing itself engendered novel types of collective awareness, introducing unprecedented means of mass communication. These two aspects of the relation between sociality and film – film as a vehicle for new forms of intersubjectivity and of sociality, on the one hand, and as an object for novel types of collective awareness, on the other – are today regaining attention from philosophers of film employing phenomenological, analytic, or cognitive approaches. The conference aims to re-evaluate and re-examine these issues specifically in view of the recent remediation and relocation of film experience.

Submissions on philosophy of film, social phenomenology, or social epistemology addressing topics such as the following are especially welcome:

  • Shared emotions, the sense of “we”, or group dynamics of film audiences
  • Collective intentionality or understanding mental states in film experience
  • Modalities of persuasion, commitment, or activism through film
  • Mechanisms of conveying ethical, environmental, or political views via film
  • Contemporary film treatments of race, class, sexuality, or gender
  • Transformations of the social experience of film due to its remediation and relocation

Read more on Call: Social Experiences of Film, Film Experiences of Sociality – New Approaches in Film-Philosophy…

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New $10 million Avatar XPrize is for building remote-controlled humanoid robots

[A major competition has been launched to accomplish a “grand challenge” for presence, as reported in this story from Fast Company. For more information see an interview with the XPrize founder in Fortune, and of course the website for the Avatar XPrize. –Matthew]

Read more on New $10 million Avatar XPrize is for building remote-controlled humanoid robots…

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