ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: May 2018

How will virtual reality change your mind’s consciousness?

[One last news item before ISPR Presence News takes a break for a few weeks: This piece from Big Think considers the role of VR and other presence-evoking technologies in defining, and controlling, our personal reality; the original includes more images and three videos. –Matthew]

[Image: You are who you are because of your environment. What happens in a virtual world? Credit: Shutterstock/Big Think]

How will virtual reality change your mind’s consciousness?

May 16, 2018
by Derek Beres

Over a half-century ago, Canadian professor and philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote one of the most influential books on media theory ever. Understanding Media introduced a number of ideas and phrases that now seem commonplace: “hot” and “cool” media; global village; and, of course, “the medium is the message.” He is credited with predicting the emergence of the World Wide Web three decades before its invention.

In McLuhan’s understanding, the terms medium, technology, and media are interchangeable. The subtitle of his book, The Extensions of Man, posits that any technology (and therefore medium and media) is effectively an extension of our bodies and consciousness. When I’m driving, the car is an extension of myself: its boundaries are now my own; my awareness must now take its full size and power into consideration.

This also includes smartphones, in which people walk around unaware of their environmental boundaries because their consciousness has been subsumed by a device. Where the technology ends and “I” begin becomes hazy. According to McLuhan, there is essentially no such distance. The content of the medium is not nearly as important as the medium itself, for it is the medium that changes societies, much more so than any specific content.

In some ways, the content can even distract us. Facebook is a fitting example. As McLuhan writes, “the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium.” We might assume technology is always progressing, but that’s not necessarily the case. Notice the other term he assigns to our creations:

Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body.

GPS is a wonderful technology, but it comes at a cost. Its long-term effect on our memory and visual systems force us to confront its true value. Studies have shown that the more you use maps, the smaller your hippocampus, your brain’s memory center. You are now the only landmark, which is quite useless if you have no idea where you actually are. Don’t misunderstand: using GPS to find your way around new territories is a wonderful advancement. Continual reliance on it in the same neighborhoods is another story.

You are already a cyborg

Technologies don’t necessarily make us useless, however. If anything, the opposite: philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark believes we are all cyborgs, “in the most natural way.” We are what we are as animals thanks to our environment and the technologies we’ve created to engage with it. This is as true for the Uber driver and GPS as the wheelchair-bound and ramps. Our technologies define our realities, as Clark expressed when co-writing a famous paper (with Australian philosopher Dave Chalmers) that expanded the definition of “mind” beyond the body.

While Clark appears more optimistic about mediums than McLuhan, he recognizes the dark side of, say, algorithms, and the invasion of privacy. Yet overall he feels that such “radical honesty” promotes liberalism and democracy—a theory being tested in the age of social media. Essentially, he’s saying you should be able to defend the reality you’ve constructed. The problem is, at least in digital space, we’re not always engaging with an environment whose boundaries we understand, making us vulnerable in a way we’ve never quite experienced.

Clark’s theory of “extended mind” and McLuhan’s media extensions remind us that consciousness is not confined to the body. There need not be any mysticism to this. As journalist Michael Pollan argues in his forthcoming book on psychedelics, if any of us were to experience another person’s mental state it would likely feel like a psychedelic trip, given how foreign the sensations and observations would be.

How will virtual reality change this? Read more on How will virtual reality change your mind’s consciousness?…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

ISPR Presence News publication schedule

As many of us gather in Prague for the PRESENCE 2018 conference, ISPR Presence News will be taking a break, but it will return on Tuesday May 29, 2018. For more presence news and other materials, join the free ISPR Presence Community on Facebook. “See you” in a few weeks…

Read more on ISPR Presence News publication schedule…

Posted in ISPR News | Leave a comment

Call: ‘Gamification’ at 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS)

Call for Papers


Part of the “Decision Analytics, Mobile Services, and Service Science” track
52nd annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences HICSS
January 8-11, 2019
Grand Waile, Maui

JUNE 15: Submissions deadline
AUGUST 17: Notification sent to authors
SEPTEMBER 4: Revision deadline
SEPTEMBER 10: Final acceptance notifications sent to authors
SEPTEMBER 22: Deadline for authors to submit the final manuscript (camera ready)
OCTOBER 1: Registration deadline
JANUARY 8-11: Conference
FEBRUARY 15, 2019 (date subject to change) (Optional) Submission deadline for extended versions of selected papers for Gamification special issue in the Electronic Commerce Research and Applications

During the last decade, games have become an established vein of entertainment, consumer culture, and essentially, a common part of people’s daily lives (36). In the United States alone 59% of the population plays computer games while revenues of the computer games industry exceed US $15 billion (4). However, in addition to the increased penetration of games, the ways in which people play and employ games have also become more varied. There are more different kinds of games available for a multitude of different platforms, mediated through different technologies that cater for differing gaming needs (15,20,24,41) for widening audiences (8,9,10,26,36,40) and which use a wide variety of business models (1,2,13,14,25,27,28,29).

Following these developments, our reality and lives are increasingly game-like, not only because video games have become a pervasive part of our lives, but perhaps most prominently because activities, systems and services that are not traditionally perceived as game-like are increasingly gamified. Gamification refers to designing products, services and organizational practices to afford similar experiences to games, and consequently, to attempt to create value and affect people’s behaviour. (3,16,21,30,39). In recent years, the popularity of gamification has skyrocketed and is manifested in growing numbers of gamified applications, as well as a rapidly increasing amount of research. (See e.g. 17,18,33).

Beyond intentional gamification, gamification also refers to the general ludic transformation of our reality, culture and everyday lives (35,39). For example, recently we have witnessed the popular emergence of augmented reality games (32) and virtual reality technologies that enable a more seamless integration of games into our physical reality. The media ecosystem has also experienced a degree of ludic transformation, with user generated content becoming an important competitor for large media corporations. This transformation has led to the development of several emerging phenomena such as streaming (37) and esports (19,38), that have penetrated the cultural membrane allowing games to seep into domains hitherto dominated by traditional media.

We encourage a wide range of submissions: empirical and conceptual research papers, case studies, and reviews in addition to practitioner reports related to gamification, games, information systems, commerce and users/players as well as the area between them.

Extended versions of selected papers will be invited to be submitted to a Gamification special issue in the Electronic Commerce Research and Applications journal.

Relevant topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Users: e.g. Engagement, experience, motivations, user/player types
  • Education: e.g. Serious games, game-based learning, simulation games
  • Media: e.g. eSports, streaming
  • Commerce: e.g. Business models, free-to-play, gamification as marketing, adoption
  • Work: e.g. Organizational gamification, gameful work, gamification in leadership
  • Technology: e.g. VR, AR, MR, Internet of Things
  • Toys & playfulness: e.g. Toys, playfulness, Internet of Toys
  • Health: e.g. Quantified self, games for health, health benefits
  • Theories/concepts/methods: Contributions to science around gamification

Read more on Call: ‘Gamification’ at 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS)…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment

How Villanova baseball is using presence to improve at the plate

[A Villanova University professor is using a CAVE to evoke spatial presence and help baseball players train; this story is from, where it includes two more images. –Matthew]

[Image: A Villanova professor developed a program to help Wildcat players improve at the plate. Sam Margulis, a freshman outfielder, demonstrates the virtual reality setup located in “The Cave” in a campus library. Credit: Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer.]

Taking a swing at virtual reality: How Villanova baseball is using tech to improve at the plate

Updated: May 10, 2018
by Frank Fitzpatrick, Staff Writer

Heads down, hoods up, hands buried deeply in pockets, Villanova students hustled through an icy wind that lashed their busy campus. Though it was a sunny mid-April morning, it clearly was not baseball weather.

But inside Falvey Memorial Library, in a hushed, confined, first-floor corner that, while heated, wasn’t much larger than a utility closet, a couple of Villanova ballplayers were taking batting practice, 2018 style.

Batting practice is a misnomer. There were no bats or balls. Instead, the Wildcats players wore virtual-reality headsets and stood in the batter’s box of a 3D ballpark that had been projected onto the library’s walls, trying to distinguish Justin Verlander’s fastball from his slider.

This virtual BP setup — called The Cave, which stands for cave automatic virtual environment — in a technology-laden nook of the library is meant not to enhance a hitter’s contact or swing, but rather to develop pitch and location recognition. It was devised by Mark Jupina, a baseball-loving assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Villanova.

“This has been an intersection of all my different interests and skills,” said Jupina, a Central Pennsylvania native. “I played high school and Legion ball and coached my sons over the years. Here, I worked with [Wildcats coach Kevin Mulvey] to get a better understanding of what he and his players would like to see in terms of training aspects.”

The Wildcats team, loaded with freshmen and sophomores and struggling through an 8-32 season that likely will conclude later this month, only recently began using the system.

Armed with sensors, infrared cameras, a projector, software and MLB analytics, Jupina is able to reproduce any pitch by any big-league pitcher and even augment its speed. He also hopes to incorporate the visual backgrounds of every Big East ballpark, making the batter’s virtual experience even more realistic. Read more on How Villanova baseball is using presence to improve at the plate…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Job: Postdoc Researcher in Multi-User Natural Interaction at Luxembourg Inst of Sci and Tech

Post-Doctoral Researcher in the field of Multi-User Natural Interaction (M/F)
The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Reference: Itis-2018-007
Fixed term contract, 24 months
Place: Belval

Application deadline: June 15th, 2018


The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is appointing a Junior R&T Associate for the RDI Unit “Human Dynamics in Cognitive Environments (HDCE)”, which is part of the “IT for Innovative Services” (ITIS) Department.

The HDCE unit is a multidisciplinary team performing applied research in the Human-Centric computing field, at the interplay between computer and human science. It studies Cyber-Physical Social Systems and develops Ambient Intelligence technologies that leverage connected physical spaces and objects that citizens and workers use to enhance their individual and collective experience or performance.

The successful candidate will join the Multi-User Natural Interaction (INTERACT) research group, which focusses on human-computer and human-to-human interaction in collaborative scenarios. (S)he will be working on the multidisciplinary FNR CORE 2017 project ORBIT (OveRcoming Breakdowns in Teams on Interactive Tabletops) funded by the Luxembourgish National Research Fund, located at the interplay between technology and social sciences. The main objective of ORBIT is to research and implement technology prototypes for a joint problem solving (JPS) activity using an interactive tabletop. The aim is that participants interacting with the table will have the opportunity to develop collaboration methods by jointly overcoming artificially introduced breakdowns. The JPS activity and its technical solution will be designed iteratively and put into practice during workshops in two different contexts: teacher education and professional training of municipal workers.


LIST is looking for a highly motivated researcher that holds a PhD degree in computer science to perform a key role in the ORBIT project. She/he will closely collaborate with the project team to iteratively design, implement, and evaluate the JPS activity for the interactive tangible and touch tabletop. Together with the team members, she/he will develop technology prototypes, co-organise user studies, analyse the collected data, and disseminate the project results as part of peer-reviewed conference and journal publications.

PROFILE Read more on Job: Postdoc Researcher in Multi-User Natural Interaction at Luxembourg Inst of Sci and Tech…

Posted in Jobs | Leave a comment

Peter Rubin’s “Future Presence: How VR Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life”

[Peter Rubin’s new book covers a wide range of interesting presence topics; this interview with the author is from The Verge (where it includes a different image). –Matthew]

Why the real promise of virtual reality is to change human connection

It’s not all about gaming

By Angela Chen
Apr 17, 2018

All the talk about virtual reality revolutionizing the gaming industry is “just first-day stuff,” says VR expert Peter Rubin. Forget 360-degree video and video games, he says. That’s just the beginning, and focusing too much on these uses takes away from the true potential of VR: a social technology to bring us together.

Rubin is a journalist at Wired and the author of Future Presence: How Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life, out today from HarperCollins. The Verge spoke to Rubin about VR intimacy, its social powers and downsides, and why VR porn is surprisingly quaint.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity. Read more on Peter Rubin’s “Future Presence: How VR Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life”…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Call: ENTER 2019: The 26th Annual eTourism Conference

Call for Research Papers

ENTER 2019: The 26th Annual eTourism Conference
“eTourism: Towards a Sustainable Digital Society”
Hilton Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
30 January – 1 February, 2019

(Proceedings published by Springer – Journal special issue in JITT, Springer)

Submissions deadline: September 3, 2018

Every year, hundreds of tourism academics, industry representatives, government officials, students and entrepreneurs come together to share, discuss and challenge latest developments in information technology in the fields of travel, tourism and hospitality. With the theme “eTourism: Towards a Sustainable Digital Society” the ENTER 2019 conference will focus on exploring the ways in which technology and tourism together can make our society more sustainable. We call for latest research and case studies on emergent and cutting-edge information and communication technology concepts, applications, and business models to be shared in the conference.

Organized by the International Federation for Information Technology and Travel & Tourism (IFITT), the ENTER 2019 conference provides a unique venue for various tourism stakeholders to understand the application of information and communication technologies to travel and tourism, with a special focus on how eTourism can contribute to the sustainability of the society. The ENTER 2019 research track is divided into three major topics that all contribute to our capabilities in building a sustainable digital society: Tourism Business and Technology, Governance, Sustainability and Education, and Computer Science and Information Systems.

Issues to be covered at the conference include, but are not limited, to the following areas in the travel, tourism and hospitality context:

Tourism Business and Technology:

  • ICT and Tourism Experience
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality
  • Platform Economy
  • Website Design and Evaluation
  • Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategies
  • Digital Distribution and Social Selling
  • Social Networking, Social Media and Social Inspiration
  • Gaming and Gamification
  • ICT Adoption and Value Creation
  • E-strategy and eBusiness Models
  • ICT for Innovation and Service Design
  • Digital Nomads
  • Consumer Behaviour in Digital Space
  • Robotics and Automation in Travel and Hospitality

Governance, Sustainability and Education:

  • ICT for Regional Development and Sustainability
  • Advanced Distribution Systems and Strategies, Dynamic Packaging
  • ICT-enabled Partnership and Collaboration
  • E-Learning, Life-long Learning and MOOCs
  • E-Government and Public Policy in Tourism
  • Digital Divide and Socio-economic Development
  • Privacy and Internet Security
  • Legal, Ethical and Social Aspects of ICT

Computer Science and Information Systems:

  • Big Data and Large-scale Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning
  • Data Mining, Analytics and Measurement
  • Text and Concept Mining, Sentiment Analysis
  • Recommender Systems and Personalization
  • User Modeling and Decision Making
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Emotions and Personality-based Systems
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Location-based Services and Context-Aware Systems
  • Mobile Services and Wearable Technologies
  • Semantic Web, Tourism Ontologies and Linked Open Data
  • Data Standards and Data Integration
  • Travel Information Search and Retrieval
  • Internet-of-Things
  • Smart Destinations
  • Travel Chatbots
  • Blockchain and Other Emerging Technologies


The conference brings together the research community and industry, and it is organized in three streams, namely industry track, destinations track, and research track. If you are representing tourism industry or destinations, please see suitable calls for presentations at The conference also features six to eight world-class keynote speakers discussing the most pressing topics within eTourism. Read more on Call: ENTER 2019: The 26th Annual eTourism Conference…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment

Presence for good: Changing your race in virtual reality

[I somehow missed this important story from last fall about a project that uses presence to help people experience the microaggressions that result from implicit bias, “quiet, coded moments of racial bias that shape [a black person’s] worldview and sense of justice over time.” The story is from Engadget, where it includes more images. For more information on the project, created through a collaboration with our colleague Jeremy Bailenson, see the 1000 Cut Journey page on the Tribeca Immersive website and coverage in VR World that includes Courtney Cogburn’s TED Talk. For discussions of the broader potential of VR and presence to address social and political issues, see Wired’s coverage of this and other projects at Tribeca and a new blog post at BigThink. –Matthew]


Changing your race in virtual reality

And how it reveals the hidden structure of racism.

Chris Ip
September 28, 2017

John Howard Griffin was perhaps the best-known race swapper of the 20th century.

In 1959, the white Texan writer went undercover as a black man in the Jim Crow South. Griffin spent days under a tanning lamp, took drugs for the skin pigmentation disorder vitiligo and shaved his head but otherwise spoke and acted exactly as he had as a white man. In assignments for the African-American magazine Sepia and later his acclaimed book Black Like Me, Griffin aimed to convey to white Americans what it was like to be the other. This was before Rachel Dolezal, Iggy Azalea or any of the Kardashians; blackness for him was not a cultural adornment but a target on his back.

After his transformation, Griffin was taken aback by how quickly his sense of self adjusted to a new identity. Peering in a New Orleans bathroom mirror for the first time after his temporary metamorphosis, he reflected:

“All traces of the John Griffin I had been were wiped from existence. Even the senses underwent a change so profound it filled me with distress. I looked into the mirror and saw nothing of the white John Griffin’s past. No, the reflections led back to Africa, back to the shanty and the ghetto, back to the fruitless struggles against the mark of blackness. Suddenly, almost with no mental preparation, no advance hint, it became clear and permeated my whole being.”

People around him flipped their behavior just as starkly. Black acquaintances who knew he was white lapsed into discussing “our struggle” with him; white women on the bus shot “hate stares” his way.

Through six weeks of travelling through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, Griffin conveyed to white people a truth that African-Americans had been saying for a long time and still holds today: People of different races in the US inhabit different realities.

Everything from police interactions to job applications can be experienced differently according to your race. As the comedian Dave Chappelle said in an interview earlier this summer, “If you had some glasses that someone could put on just to see the world how you saw the world, it’d be probably fucking terrifying.”

Yet as Chappelle made those comments in a New York radio studio, it turned out Courtney Cogburn was working on something like that just uptown.

An assistant professor of social work at Columbia University, Cogburn and her team have been creating a project named 1000 Cut Journey in collaboration with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which is led by Jeremy Bailenson. Showcasing today for the first time at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the experience uses an HTC Vive virtual reality headset to put users in the body of a black man, Michael Sterling, at four different stages of his life. Titled in reference to the gruesome torture method of death by a thousand cuts, each scene in the experience is a composite of real-life stories — garnered from the media and personal accounts — that reveals the myriad ways race infiltrates one’s quotidian experiences.

Essentially, it’s a first-person simulation of the racism faced by a black male, for non-blacks to experience temporarily. Although tamer than Griffin’s gruelling social experiment from half a century ago, its aims are similar — except it’s contained entirely within a headset. Read more on Presence for good: Changing your race in virtual reality…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Call: “HCI Perspectives on Industry 4.0” issue of Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal (IxD&A)

Call for Papers

Special Issue on
Human Computer Interaction Perspectives on Industry 4.0
to be published at the
Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal (IxD&A)
(ISSN 1826-9745, eISSN 2283-2998)

IxD&A implements the Gold Open Access (OA) road to its contents with no charge to the authors (submission & paper processing)


Guest Editors:

  • Ralf Klamma, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • Viktoria Pammer-Schindler, Graz University of Technology, Austria
  • Mario Aehnelt, Fraunhofer IGD, Rostock, Germany


  • Deadline: May 28, 2018 (extended)
  • Notification to the authors: June 30, 2018
  • Camera ready paper: July 20, 2018
  • Publication of the special issue: beginning of August, 2018


Information technologies in the form of networked things, automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence allow for evolutionary and revolutionary progress in industry (Industry 4.0). On this focus day we connect technical and human factors aspects by discussing deep learning as one of the game changing algorithms, methods and technologies for Industry 4.0, and the impact on how industrial work will be conducted in the future.


The seven main scientific topics considered in this special issue are:

  • Cognitive support and cognitive automation for human understanding and decision processes
  • Visual support by augmented or virtual reality for complex data or knowledge-intensive work tasks
  • Smart learning or situated learning for a professional and self-regulated work life in production and assembly
  • Data usability for workers supporting intuitive handling of complex and heterogeneous data
  • Division of work between humans and machines in the Industry 4.0. What are the capabilities of computers? What should be done by humans? What are the unique competences of humans and machines?
  • Mobile assistance for supporting human on the shop floor. Potentials, challenges and visions for flexible, mobile assistance systems
  • Experience of workers with new technologies in smart industrial environments

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURE Read more on Call: “HCI Perspectives on Industry 4.0” issue of Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal (IxD&A)…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment

Andrea Stevenson Won researching use of VR and presence to relieve pain

[This is a too-short story about our colleague Andrea Stevenson Won and some of her fascinating and valuable work related to presence. It’s from the Cornell Chronicle, where it includes two more images. For more information see the Virtual Embodiment Lab website and her page on the Cornell website. –Matthew]

[Image: Andrea Stevenson Won, assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University, in the Virtual Embodiment Lab. Credit: Sasha Israel/Provided]

Relieving real pain in a virtual world

By Jennifer Savran Kelly
April 30, 2018

We’ve all enjoyed losing ourselves in a good book, but what if the story could change our lived experience? It may sound like science fiction, yet Andrea Stevenson Won uses a similar concept to study how immersing people in virtual reality (VR) can treat real-life pain.

VR offers tantalizing hope as a way to relieve the anguish of physical and mental stress. For those dealing with acute pain, it can form a distraction for the mind. And for those suffering from trauma, it helps relive triggering situations in a supported way.

Won, assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, directs the Virtual Embodiment Lab, exploring how physical and social interactions in mediated environments affect people’s perceptions. “I’m interested in the idea that you can transform your movements – see yourself doing something other than what you’re actually doing in real life – and this could help relieve chronic and acute pain,” says Won. Read more on Andrea Stevenson Won researching use of VR and presence to relieve pain…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment
  • Find Researchers

    Use the links below to find researchers listed alphabetically by the first letter of their last name.

    A | B | C | D | E | F| G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z