ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: April 2018

VR trainer creates multimodal simulations of firefighting emergencies

[Another very practical application of presence is described in this story from WTTV CBS4. For more information see the FLAIM Trainer website. –Matthew]

Virtual reality training on display at downtown firefighters convention

April 25, 2018
By Zach Myers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Firefighters attending this year’s Fire Department Instructor’s Conference in downtown Indianapolis are getting their first look at a new, virtual reality training system.

The technology, designed by “Flame Systems,” is engineered to give a realistic simulation of various fire emergencies in a virtual environment.

“We’ve just launched here at the show today, and this is the first time the North American market has seen this sort of technology,” said Flame Systems spokesperson James Mullins. “What we’re trying to do is bring all the realism of a fire fight into the virtual environment to give people that experience.”

Simulated emergencies on display included a kitchen fire, a propane tank leak and an aircraft fire.

The system consists of a set of VR goggles that provide a 360 degree view of simulated emergencies in real time. It also includes a fire jacket that can be heated to simulate heat radiating from a virtual fire. The hose held by a firefighter training on the system is attached to a reel that pulls backward when water is being sprayed. Read more on VR trainer creates multimodal simulations of firefighting emergencies…

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Call: AutomotiveUI’18: The 10th International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications

Call for Papers

AutomotiveUI’18: The 10th International ACM Conference on
Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications
Toronto, Canada, September 23-25, 2018
http://www.auto-ui.org/18
Author information: http://www.auto-ui.org/18/authors/

Sign up for our newsletter: https://www.auto-ui.org/18/newsletter-signup

The conference will be preceded by the doctoral colloquium on September 22nd.

IMPORTANT DATES:

Papers:
Submission deadline (EXTENDED): May 07, 2018
(Submissions are accepted until 11:59 p.m AoE (Anywhere on Earth))
Decision notification: June 29, 2018

Workshop proposals:
Submission deadline: June 4, 2018
Decision notification: June 22, 2018

Works in Progress, Interactive Demos, Videos and Doctoral Colloquium:
Submission deadline: July 11, 2018
Decision notification: August 3, 2018

AutomotiveUI, the International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications, is the premier forum for UI research in the automotive domain. AutomotiveUI brings together researchers and practitioners interested in both the technical and the human aspects of in-vehicle user interfaces and applications. Consistent with prior conferences, AutomotiveUI’18 will address novel in-vehicle services, models of and concepts for enhancing the driver experience, driver performance and behavior, development of (semi-) autonomous driving, and the needs of different user groups.

AutomotiveUI’18 invites you to submit original work in one or more of the following formats: papers, workshops, works in progress, interactive demos, video sessions, and doctoral colloquium. Read more on Call: AutomotiveUI’18: The 10th International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications…

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It’s Westworld. What’s wrong with cruelty to robots?

[I’ve always been intrigued by fictional portrayals of presence and what they can tell us about ourselves and the possible roles and effects of technologies (see the Telepresence in Media Environments website); this opinion column from The New York Times uses “Westworld” and its portrayal of medium-as-social-actor presence to raise important philosophical questions. See also the current series “Humans,” and for a classic portrayal see the climactic courtroom scene (via YouTube) of the 1989 “Measure of a Man” episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” –Matthew]

[Image: “Westworld” opened its second season Sunday night. Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO.]

It’s Westworld. What’s Wrong With Cruelty to Robots?

By Paul Bloom and Sam Harris

Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale and the author of “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion.” Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, the author of “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion,” and the host of the “Waking Up Podcast.”

April 23, 2018

Suppose we had robots perfectly identical to men, women and children and we were permitted by law to interact with them in any way we pleased. How would you treat them?

That is the premise of “Westworld,” the popular HBO series that opened its second season Sunday night. And, plot twists of Season 2 aside, it raises a fundamental ethical question we humans in the not-so-distant future are likely to face.

Based on the 1973 film, “Westworld” depicts a futuristic playground modeled after the Wild West, where the characters — bartenders, prostitutes, sheriffs, bandits — are robotic “hosts,” programmed to interact as naturally as possible with their human guests. These intelligent machines look and act exactly like people. Indeed, viewers are often confused or misled about who is a host and who is a person.

The guests can behave however they please. Some assume heroic roles, but others choose to act out their darkest impulses, participating in torture, rape and murder — including the murder of robots that are indistinguishable from human children. The hosts have been designed so that they can’t harm the guests; so these are acts of pure sadism, without risk of reprisal.

It’s hardly a spoiler to say that things go wrong for the humans in “Westworld.” But we are interested here in the show’s premise — and what our reaction as viewers to these lifelike robots suggests about human nature and the future of technology. Read more on It’s Westworld. What’s wrong with cruelty to robots?…

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Job: Internship in Augmented Reality for Environmental Applications at Luxembourg Inst of Sci and Tech (LIST)

MASTER STUDENT INTERNSHIP IN AUGMENTED REALITY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS (M/F)

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Duration: 6 months during Spring/Summer 2018
Place: Belvaux, Luxembourg

https://www.list.lu/en/jobs/interns/internship-offer/erin-2018-intern-004/

CONTEXT

The “Environmental Research and Innovation” (ERIN) department of LIST has an opening for an Intern position. The intern will be integrated in the e-Science unit, which focuses on data analytics & visualization and their applications.

DESCRIPTION

Climate change is foreseen to cause an increasing number of extreme events. In addition, the population is nowadays very sensitive to various types of pollution due to human activities. Managing environmental disasters such as flooding, biological or chemical damage is a complex task which requires a sound level of situational awareness. This internship project will focus on using augmented reality technologies to assist those managing an environmental disaster, with a particular emphasis on information visualisation in a multi-user setting.

The intern will focus on developing new augmented reality interfaces for a chosen scenario which will leverage an existing platform developed at LIST. The project will involve software and hardware engineering challenges, alongside more research oriented topics such as visualisation and situational awareness.

The e-Science unit has a number of Horizon 2020 projects with partners from across Europe working on related topics. Therefore the intern will have the opportunity to work alongside international partners from these projects.

PROFILE Read more on Job: Internship in Augmented Reality for Environmental Applications at Luxembourg Inst of Sci and Tech (LIST)…

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U.S. Army deletes bureaucracy to develop advanced training simulations

[This story from Breaking Defense outlines the U.S. Army’s current efforts to create effective presence illusions to train soldiers. Note especially the “Four Parts” section. –Matthew]

[Image: Army aviators train in a CH-47 Chinook simulator.]

War Games: Army Deletes Bureaucracy To Get Sims Fast

There is real uncertainty whether such things as robotic tanks and high-speed scout helicopters are possible on the Army’s timeline. But if there’s one area where a high-speed approach can work, it’s training simulations, where the Army can piggyback on the rapid development in commercial gaming.

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
April 20, 2018

FORT BELVOIR: To train its troops for future wars, the US Army wants to build the ultimate video game. To get that game ASAP, the Army is blowing up the usual bureaucracy and borrowing high-speed development techniques from private sector software companies.

The service has already held two industry days on different aspects of the technology, with a third coming up in May, and combat soldiers have already tried out some industry offerings, said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais. She’s the head of the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment effort, which was launched just last fall.

Some software will be ready to go on the Army’s new multi-function helmet-mounted display, the ENVG-B, when it enters service in December, Gervais said. A full augmented reality training system will be ready by 2021, complete with interior maps of buildings around the world and simulated civilians going about their day.

It’s not the typical Army process, Gervais told me in an impromptu interview on the sidelines of an Army tech demonstration here. Instead, she said, her Cross Functional Team — so-called because it pulls together experts from across the Army — is working intimately with industry in a tight cycle: “let me see the products you have, let’s give you feedback, let’s continue to develop this thing, over and over.”

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley [has] set some ambitious goals for his Big Six modernization program. There is real uncertainty whether such things as robotic tanks and high-speed scout helicopters are possible on his timeline. But if there’s one area where a high-speed approach can work, it’s training simulations, where the Army can piggyback on the rapid development in commercial gaming.

Four Parts

Just to make it more complex, there are four interdependent pieces that Gervais is developing in parallel. Read more on U.S. Army deletes bureaucracy to develop advanced training simulations…

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Job: Research Associate on Digital Narratives (DiNar) project, University of York

Research Associate Position
Digital Narratives (DiNar) project
Digital Creativity Labs, University of York, UK
Vacancy reference: 6590

Closing date: 01 May 2018
Interview date: 11 May 2018

Find out more and apply: https://goo.gl/aPkZAL

We seek an outstanding interdisciplinary researcher for a six month fixed term position as a Research Associate on the Within the Walls of York Gaol project. Within the Walls of York Gaol is an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional project set up to research the application of Virtual Reality technology within a museums context. The project is situated in York’s Digital Creativity (DC) Labs (http://www.digitalcreativity.ac.uk), an impact-driven research centre that explores and develops new forms of digital creativity and interactive media experience. The post is funded by the AHRC Next Generation of Immersive Experiences funding scheme and will be part of a collaborative project between the University of York, University of Glasgow and York Museums Trust.

The Within the Walls of York Gaol project investigates the use of Virtual Reality to deliver enhanced experiences of museums and heritage environments to audiences. The focus of the project will be on the re-interpretation of York Castle Museum Debtor’s Prison using immersive technologies. The successful candidate will play a central role in the development and evaluation of experimental immersive installations and will work closely with staff from all of the collaborating institutions. Read more on Job: Research Associate on Digital Narratives (DiNar) project, University of York…

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The Uncanny Valley of haptics

[This first-person report on research conducted by Microsoft and the California Institute of Technology on haptic illusions and how to use them to create presence illusions is from Scientific American’s Observations blog, where it includes more images, a 1:14 minute video, and author bios. –Matthew]

If (Virtual) Reality Feels Almost Right, It’s Exactly Wrong

How adding touch to VR can lead to an “uncanny valley” of sensations—and what we can do about it

By Mar Gonzalez-Franco, Christopher C Berger and Ken Hinckley
April 19, 2018

We can all remember the crisply beveled edges of our cheery-yellow No. 2 pencil, the cool, smooth feel of a chalk-powdered blackboard, the gritty red bricks of the schoolhouse walls. Surely that all wasn’t just an illusion?

No, of course not.

But—as it turns out—it kind of is.

The sense of touch (and indeed, all of our senses) is more or less illusory because no sensation stands alone. Stretch out your hands and snap your fingers. This, of course, feels very real. But you’re seeing your fingers, hearing your fingers, and feeling your fingers—and all of these sensations fully correspond.

Now, what if they didn’t?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a great tool for revealing this strange and otherworldly foundation of our everyday sensory perceptions. Sneaky (but, of course, highly ethical) experimentalists such as ourselves can render a completely computer-generated world. If we hand you a pair of controllers that can vibrate on command, we can play tricks.

We can even use this simple apparatus to produce a sensation of touch that “feels like” it originates in the completely empty space between your outstretched hands—an experiment we discuss in our paper in the current issue of Science Robotics. Read more on The Uncanny Valley of haptics…

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Call: VR/AR Conference: VR and AR to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

VR/AR Conference 2018:
Virtual & Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
September 12th, 2018
Swansea University
Swansea, UK
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/vr-in-teaching/
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/vr-in-teaching/vr-conference/

Submission deadline: June 8, 2018

Swansea will be hosting our first VR/AR conference on September 12th 2018. The theme will be Virtual and Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

Read more on Call: VR/AR Conference: VR and AR to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education…

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Japanese company makes virtual shadow boyfriends to help protect women who live alone

[This story from SoraNews24 describes an unusual example of presence; see the original version for more images and seven videos. For more information see the Leo Palace 21 website. –Matthew]

Japanese company makes virtual shadow boyfriends to help protect women who live alone

Silhouettes of karate fighters, bodybuilders, and domestically dedicated dudes make would-be criminals think you’ve got a live-in boyfriend.

Casey Baseel
March 31, 2018

Not only is Tokyo Japan’s largest city in terms of population, it’s also where you’ll find, by far, the most educational, economic, and artistic opportunities. Because of that, many young people head to Tokyo when they move out of their parents’ home, in order to be closer to their workplace or college.

Because most Japanese people don’t really like the idea of having a roommate, a lot of these young people end up living alone, including young women. But while Tokyo is much safer than large cities in many other countries, crimes do happen, and criminals often consider young women who live alone to be easy targets.

To help address this problem, and also to put the minds of female tenants at ease, apartment management company Leo Palace 21 has developed what it calls the Man on the Curtain system, which is shown starting at the 1:15 mark in the [3:29 minute] video [in the original story].

Using a projector controlled by/attached to a smartphone, Man on the Curtain throws a silhouette of a man onto your curtains, so that when people outside look at your windows, there will appear to be a guy inside, thus masking that you live alone. Read more on Japanese company makes virtual shadow boyfriends to help protect women who live alone…

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Call: “When Robots Think. Interdisciplinary Views on Intelligent Automation.” (Conference)

Call for Papers

When Robots Think.
Interdisciplinary Views on Intelligent Automation
November 14–16, 2018
Münster, Germany
http://iasymposium.rwth-aachen.de/

Submission deadline for talk abstracts: July 31st
Submission deadline for poster abstracts: August 15th

In Western societies, we are surrounded by artificially intelligent systems. Most of these systems are embedded in online platforms like Facebook. But embodiment of AI, be it by voice (Siri, Alexa, Cortana) or by actual physical embodiment (as in the case of robots) give artificially intelligent systems another dimension in terms of their impact on how we perceive these systems, how they shape our communication with them and with fellow humans and how we live and work together. The purpose of the conference is to bring together some of the best national and international researchers to discuss and evaluate the state of the art of intelligent automation and its impact on individuals and society. To achieve this goal, the conference is divided into five sections: Read more on Call: “When Robots Think. Interdisciplinary Views on Intelligent Automation.” (Conference)…

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