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Monthly Archives: June 2018

Call: EAI Transactions on E-Learning

European Alliance for Innovation (EAI)
EAI Transactions on E-Learning
CALL-FOR-PAPERS for the Upcoming Issue

Journal Website (EU Digital Library): http://eudl.eu/issue/el/4/16
Submission Instructions: http://eudl.eu/static/Submission-Instructions.pdf

Manuscript submission deadline: June 15, 2018 but extensions to June 30, 2018 can be negotiated with the Chief Editors

Established in 2011, the EAI Transactions on e-Learning has been showcasing exemplary research and practice covering the design, development, and implementation of e-Learning in all settings, with a focus on higher education and K-12. With the emergence of new technologies and the fast globalization of learning, it is time to redefine e-Learning and to envision the future of learning. This important mission relies on researchers and practitioners who have been running in the forefront of creating adaptive and engaging learning for the diverse audiences around the globe.

For the upcoming issue, we are looking for original submissions on innovative research, technologies, and/or tools related to online, mobile, hybrid, and augmented learning in both education and training. Our goal is to uncover and discuss emerging trends and technologies, sound research and best practices, successful products and services within an international and interdisciplinary community.

We welcome manuscripts that address one or more of the following topics:

  • Accessibility and usability of online instruction in both formal and informal learning
  • Assessment of e-Learning: process and learning outcomes
  • Best Practices in designing and developing e-Learning
  • Collaborative learning, social media, and social networks
  • Culturally adaptive teaching and learning
  • Emerging systems, technologies, and trends
  • Open education resources in teaching and learning
  • Large-scale design and implementation of mobile learning
  • Security and privacy in e-Learning systems
  • Social and organizational perspectives related to e-Learning
  • Standards and infrastructures of e-Learning environment
  • Student engagement in online, mobile, blended, and augmented learning
  • New and innovative pedagogies, instructional models and frameworks related to e-Learning
  • Virtual and Augmented Learning Environments in all sectors: design, development, and implementation

Read more on Call: EAI Transactions on E-Learning…

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Telepresence robots attempt to move back into the spotlight

[This story from Robotics Business Review provides a status report on the challenges and potential of the telepresence robot market. See the original for several more pictures, links to 10 leading telepresence robot companies, and to sign up for the RBR Newsletter. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Ava Robotics]

Telepresence Robots Attempt to Move Back Into the Spotlight

High costs, end user difficulties, and poor audio/video have hampered the growth of telepresence robotics. Can new models and applications help grow the market beyond niche uses?

June 13, 2018
Keith Shaw

The public’s first exposure to telepresence robots likely came during a 2010 episode of The Big Bang Theory, when character Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) drives a robot to avoid catching germs from his friends and colleagues. The punchline was that Cooper was inside his bedroom one room away, not across the country like most users would be.

This should have been a watershed moment for the telepresence market – showing a mainstream audience the benefits of a mobile robot that could attend meetings in place of a worker being physically present. Almost eight years later, many people are still waiting to see more telepresence robots in their offices or homes.

Compared with robotics suppliers to the manufacturing, supply chain, and self-driving vehicles markets, telepresence robot companies have flown under the radar. Challenges including high costs, employee training, and public acceptance have slowed the market from growing to its potential, analysts said.

Waiting for the killer app

“The market seems to be in search of the right ‘killer application’ to bring the technology into mass adoption,” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research. “There are certainly a lot more markets that are left untapped.”

The initial average cost for a mobile telepresence robot is between $8,000 and $10,000. In addition, vendors have had “difficulties trying to carve out a good value proposition for their products,” contributing to a slow-moving market, he said.

However, Su said the industry will slowly gain traction thanks to declining prices for parts and better messaging from vendors.

“The launch of BeamPro 2 by Suitable Technologies this year is an encouraging sign for the industry as a whole, as it signifies there is market acceptance for mobile telepresence robots targeted at the enterprise,” he explained. “We are also seeing more vertical focus messaging and branding from companies like OhmniLabs targeting the elderly care market and Blue Frog Robotics in the smart home market.”

ABI Research classifies telepresence robots as a subset of the global telepresence market. It has forecast growth from about 22,000 this year to about 50,000 units by 2023.

A 2017 report by market research firm Technavio predicted a 38% growth rate by 2021 for telepresence robots worldwide.

Su said companies that utilize a robots-as-a-service (RaaS) model will help lower the barrier to entry for many firms looking to implement telepresence robots.

Autonomy adds to ease of use Read more on Telepresence robots attempt to move back into the spotlight…

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Call: 2018 European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI 2018)

CALL FOR PAPERS

2018 European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI 2018)
Golden Bay Beach Hotel
Larnaca, Cyprus
12-14 November, 2018
http://www.cyprusconferences.org/ami2018

Submission Deadline: 27th June 2018 (extended)

Ambient intelligence refers to normal working and living environments being surrounded by embedded devices that can merge unobtrusively and in natural ways using information and intelligence hidden in the network connecting these devices (e.g. The Internet of Things). Such devices, each specialised in one or more capabilities, are intended to work together based on an infrastructure of intelligent systems, to provide a variety of services improving safety, security and the quality of life in ordinary living, travelling and working environments.

ABOUT AMI 2018

The 2018 European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI 2018) has a focus on the role of Ambient Intelligence, “Towards a Smart and Human Centered Internet of Things”.

We invite submissions of full and short papers as well as posters, presenting original research. AmI 2018 is an interdisciplinary venue for leading international researchers, designers, and practitioners that present and discuss new results in Ambient Intelligence.

AmI builds on the success of thirteen predecessor conferences, which started in 2003 with the EUSAI-event in Veldhoven, The Netherlands. More information about the AmI series can be found here: http://ami-conferences.org.

The Proceedings of AmI 2018 will be published by Springer in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series. Furthermore, Springer will sponsor the Best Paper Award with 1,000 EUR.

TOPICS

AmI 2018 will revolve around the focus topic “Towards a Smart and Human-Centred Internet of Things” that follows the vision of Calm Technology, where technology is useful but does not demand our full attention or interfere with our usual behavior and activities.

Relevant research topics include, but are not limited to: Read more on Call: 2018 European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI 2018)…

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The importance of teaching robots to hug

[Experiment participants “felt understood by, trusted, and liked the presence of [a] robot significantly more after” hugging and being hugged by it; this interesting story about medium-as-social-actor presence from IEEE Spectrum’s Automaton blog includes an interview with the study’s lead author in which he suggests that in the future robots will have “emotional intelligence” and that we may send each other remote customized hugs via robot. See the original story for a second image and a 1:11 minute video, as well as a link at the end to sign up for the blog. –Matthew]

The Importance of Teaching Robots to Hug

Knowing how to give good hugs is an important life skill, even for robots

By Evan Ackerman
June 5 2018

Hugs make us feel warm and safe and comforted and loved. They’re pretty great, if you’re into that sort of thing. If we need a hug and another human isn’t available, we can sometimes get a little bit of satisfaction from hugging inanimate objects like stuffed animals, but it seems like robots (that can hypothetically hug us back) might be able to be somewhat more fulfilling. While we’ve seen robots that are actively huggable before, and even a few that can hug you back, it’s not clear exactly how a robot hug compares to a human hug, and whether hugging a robot can confer any of the benefits that we get from hugging people.

At the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) earlier this year, Alexis E. Block and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker from the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, presented a paper on “Emotionally Supporting Humans Through Robot Hugs.” Their work explores how robots can be more effectively designed and taught to give the kinds of hugs that humans will love. If you hug robots every time you see them (like I do) and sometimes wish those robots could be just a little bit warmer and softer, this research is definitely for you. Read more on The importance of teaching robots to hug…

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Job: Postdoc or Research engineer in Human-Agent Multimodal Interaction at Normandy University

Postdoc or Research engineer position in Human-Agent Multimodal Interaction

Laboratory: LITIS (Laboratory of Computer Science, Information Processing and Systems), INSA Rouen, Normandy University, France

Application deadline: August 31, 2018 23:00 – Europe/Brussels

Summary:

Communicating freely and naturally with a virtual character or a robot is one of the great challenges in human-machine interaction. In particular, the modelling of multi-modal and affective dialogic interactions is a multi-disciplinary scientific issue. This modelling is most often based on a corpus of multi-modal dialogues, whose analysis aims at identifying a set of recurrent behaviours (i.e. to provide a model).

The objective of the DAISI project, to which this recruitment is dedicated, is to learn and exploit multi-modal interaction models based on a set of dialogic patterns. These models are intended to be exploited within virtual characters or robots interacting with users on various application tasks (interactive narration, virtual or augmented environments for human learning, robotic interaction, etc.).

In this context, we are looking for a research engineer or a postdoc to join the project, on which are currently working 5 professors, a postdoc and 2 PhD students. The recruited person will join the LITIS MIND team.

Candidate Profile: Research Engineer or Postdoc in Human-Agent Multimodal Interaction

  • Human-Machine Interaction, virtual reality (Unity 3D, Unreal Engine) and / or robots, 3D animation skills or statistical learning would be a plus
  • For engineer candidates: good knowledge of object programming languages, developments on Windows and Linux

Assigned tasks:

  • Design, deployment and validation of components for Human-Agent interaction (eye tracking, recognition of facial expressions, emotions, joint attention, speaking skills, etc.) according to the skills of the recruited candidate
  • Organization and analysis of user experiments
  • Maintenance and development of the Agentslang platform dedicated to the deployment of conversational agents (https://agent.roboslang.org/)
  • Participation to the writing of scientific articles

Duration and remuneration: 14 months starting from 01/09/2018, approximately 2250 euros net. Read more on Job: Postdoc or Research engineer in Human-Agent Multimodal Interaction at Normandy University…

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Step inside a moment of history with Anne Frank House VR

[Oculus and the Anne Frank House museum have debuted a new 25 minute virtual tour across space and time to the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazi over seven decades ago. As this post from the Oculus Blog notes, “Hopefully it [will help] to encourage reflection on the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination and the importance of freedom, equal rights, and democracy.” See the original post for five images from the tour and a 0:57 minute video. –Matthew]

Introducing ‘Anne Frank House VR,’ an Immersive Experience that Recreates Amsterdam’s Secret Annex and Preserves a Piece of Holocaust History

Posted by Oculus VR
June 12, 2018

Today marks what would have been Anne Frank’s 89th birthday. As a teenager, she dreamt of becoming a journalist or writer—and while those dreams were tragically cut short, she succeeded in her ambitions not “to have lived in vain” and “to go on living” after her death through the pages of The Diary of a Young Girl. And her legacy can reach people in a brand-new way with Anne Frank House VR, now available on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR.

The Anne Frank House museum partnered with developer Force Field VR to recreate the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding from July 6, 1942 until their arrest on the morning of August 4, 1944. Using cutting-edge visualization technology and extensive historical research, the end result opens up the experience to an even wider audience in a fully immersive way. Read more on Step inside a moment of history with Anne Frank House VR…

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Call: Perception and Cognition in Augmented Reality – Special issue of PRESENCE

Call for Papers

PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments
Special Issue on Perception and Cognition in Augmented Reality

Submission deadline: Sunday, 30 September, 2018

Scope:

In recent years, mobile platforms and emerging headworn display hardware have ushered in a new wave of AR excitement and use. To realize AR’s full potential, however, a thorough understanding of perceptual and cognitive factors and their role in informing design of effective augmented reality systems is highly needed; both in research and industry communities alike. To date, there is neither an in-depth overview of these factors, nor well- founded knowledge on most effects as gained through formal validation. In particular, long-term usage effects are inadequately understood. The objective of this Special Issue on Perception and Cognition in Augmented Reality is to showcase current work in this area and to raise awareness of the importance of these issues with respect to user performance, user safety, and system usability.

Read more on Call: Perception and Cognition in Augmented Reality – Special issue of PRESENCE…

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New face-swapping AI: “The end of reality is imminent”

[Other coverage of the latest iteration of AI-based video manipulation of humans (e.g., in Gizmodo and TechCrunch) includes more details while noting the remarkably fast evolution of the technology, and the website of Stanford visiting professor Michael Zollhöfer includes much more information and a statement about both its positive and negative applications, but this short piece in Co.Design describes the implications most starkly. The articles all include the new 7:04 minute video, which is also available via YouTube.  –Matthew]

[Image: Screenshot from Deep Video Portraits demo video. Source: TechCrunch.]

This new face-swapping AI is scarily realistic

The end of reality is imminent.

June 12, 2018
By Jesus Diaz

AI-powered face-swapping technology awed the internet when it debuted last year at Siggraph, the annual computer graphics conference. The videos, known as “deep fakes,” quickly became an even more controversial–and painful–phenomenon as people used the algorithm to create porn videos using the faces of unwilling celebrities or private citizens. Even while the occasional artifact revealed the fakery, it was clear that the technology had torn down the wall between fiction and reality.

Now, a new iteration of the tech, called Deep Video Portraits technology, is debuting at this year’s Siggraph conference in August. The seven-minute video accompanying the paper, which was uploaded to YouTube this week, shows how the past year of research has pushed such technology to a reality-shattering new level. Read more on New face-swapping AI: “The end of reality is imminent”…

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Job: Faculty position in Applied Immersive Game Design at University of Canterbury

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor/Professor
Applied Immersive Game Design

University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand
https://ucvacancies.canterbury.ac.nz/psc/ps/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM_FL.HRS_CG_SEARCH_FL.GBL?Page=HRS_APP_JBPST_FL&Action=U&FOCUS=Applicant&SiteId=1&JobOpeningId=6049&PostingSeq=1&

Job ID: 6049
Location: College of Engineering
Full/Part Time: Full-Time (37.5 hours per week)
Regular/Temporary: Regular

The closing date for this position is: 29 June 2018 (NZ time)

Applications are invited for a continuing academic position in the area of Applied Immersive Game Design, one of four new academic positions in the new, rapidly growing School of Product Design in the College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury. The School offers a new, exciting degree programme, the Bachelor of Product Design, with majors offered in each of the three areas below:

  • Industrial Product Design
  • Applied Immersive Game Design
  • Chemical, Natural and Healthcare Product Formulation

The appointee will be involved in developing new courses and supervising game design students in areas, including virtual, mixed and augmented reality applications, ranging from entertainment to education, behaviour modification, industrial training, health and rehabilitation. The appointee will likely have a first degree in Game Design, Computer Science, Software Engineering or related areas and experience in teaching and research or creative practice. An understanding of and the ability to work in a way that is biculturally competent and knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori will be an advantage. Appointment at Lecturer level will require at least a Master’s degree and above Lecturer a PhD in a relevant area.

This is an exciting opportunity to join a rapidly growing School early in its development and to help shape the future of this new area of teaching, practice and research. Read more on Job: Faculty position in Applied Immersive Game Design at University of Canterbury…

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How humans bond with robot colleagues

[This first story from BBC Capital’s new Augmented Reality column provides a vivid, link-filled overview of medium-as-social-actor presence responses to robots. The original version includes six more pictures. –Matthew]

[Image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Pepper the Robot on Girls’ Day on April 26, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The event is meant to encourage young women to pursue careers in all parts of the German economy, especially in sciences, information technology and engineering, and this year the event occurs simultaneously with the W20 women’s empowerment summit, sponsored by the G20 Group of 20 major economic powers. Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images.]

How humans bond with robot colleagues

They’re supposed to be coming for our jobs but in practice humans are developing a soft spot for their new robot colleagues.

By Zaria Gorvett
31 May 2018

In our new Augmented Reality column, BBC Capital will explore scenarios you might encounter in your not-so-distant future.

If you had visited Taji, Iraq in 2013 – well, you might have seen something peculiar. The site lies an hour north of Baghdad and is home to a US military base, with dusty floors and formidable concrete walls. It is in this brutal environment that, following a lethal explosion, a group of soldiers tenderly remembered their fallen comrade. He just so happened to be a robot.

To all who knew him, this brave hero was affectionately nicknamed Boomer. He had saved many lives during his service, by going ahead of the team to search for lurking bombs that had been laid by the enemy. At his funeral, Boomer was decorated with two medals, the prestigious Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and his metallic remains were laid to rest with a 21-gun salute.

Boomer was a MARCbot, a military robot that looks a bit like a toy truck with a long neck, on which a camera is mounted. They’re relatively affordable for robots – they’re each about $19,000, or £14,000 – and not particularly difficult to replace. And yet, this team of soldiers had bonded with theirs. When he died, they mourned him like they would a beloved pet.

Fast-forward a few years and this story isn’t as unusual as you might think. In January 2017, workers at CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, threw a retirement party for five mail robots. Rasputin, Basher, Move It or Lose It, Maze Mobile and Mom had been pacing the company’s hallways for 25 years – delivering employee mail, making cute noises and regularly bumping into people.

There was cake. There were balloons. There was a nostalgic farewell video. There was even a leaving card with comments like “Thanks for making every day memorable” and “Beep! Beep! Beep!” The robots will likely spend their final years relaxing at one of the many museums that have requested them.

Though they’re often portrayed as calculating job-stealers, it seems that there’s another side to the rise of the robots. From adorably clumsy office androids to precocious factory robots, we can’t help bonding with the machinery we work with. We feel sorry for our non-human colleagues when things go wrong, project personalities onto them, give them names and even debate over their gender. One medical robot-in-training, Sophia, has been granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia.

Not all collaborative robots, or “cobots”, were designed to be likeable. Many are just rectangular boxes, that lack faces, the ability to speak, as well as any artificial intelligence. Why do we care about them? And what does it mean for the future of work? Read more on How humans bond with robot colleagues…

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